Kentucky State University

Poster Title

Avian Species and Nest Presence in Ash Trees Infected by the Emerald Ash Borer on Kentucky State University’s Campus

Institution

Kentucky State University

Abstract

Since the arrival of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2009, EAB has negatively impacted the Ash tree (Fraxinus spp.) and has the potential to negatively affect the economy and wildlife that utilize the tree for habitat. The EAB larvae feed under the bark by tunneling through the cambium of the tree reducing the flow of nutrients in the tree and leading to a reduction in foliage and mortality within a few years of infestation. Some birds, such as woodpeckers, are known to feed upon the larvae, while other birds may prefer the visibility offered by the dead branches. In this study, a crown densitometer was used to measure the percent canopy cover of affected Ashes and the presence of perching birds were assessed on the campus of Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY during the morning hours from 9/16- 10/15 prior to abscission and leaf fall. Of the 65 Ash trees studied, the mean number of perched birds was 0.1 individuals per tree and on the mean canopy cover was 19.5% which could have included vines, neighboring trees, and dead branches. There was a weak positive relationship between percent canopy cover and perched birds (R2 =0.04). During the observed study times, the birds that were present were not apex predators and no woodpeckers were observed. Nest remnants were not present in infected ash trees, but there were no significant differences between the number of nest remnants between Ash trees and adjacent trees (p=0.128). Perhaps visiting the tree multiple times and before daybreak would have revealed a greater number and diversity of avian species that utilize the tree. Based on the results of the study, we recommend replanting native tree species that are not affected by the EAB to provide habitat and reduce erosion.

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Avian Species and Nest Presence in Ash Trees Infected by the Emerald Ash Borer on Kentucky State University’s Campus

Since the arrival of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 2009, EAB has negatively impacted the Ash tree (Fraxinus spp.) and has the potential to negatively affect the economy and wildlife that utilize the tree for habitat. The EAB larvae feed under the bark by tunneling through the cambium of the tree reducing the flow of nutrients in the tree and leading to a reduction in foliage and mortality within a few years of infestation. Some birds, such as woodpeckers, are known to feed upon the larvae, while other birds may prefer the visibility offered by the dead branches. In this study, a crown densitometer was used to measure the percent canopy cover of affected Ashes and the presence of perching birds were assessed on the campus of Kentucky State University in Frankfort, KY during the morning hours from 9/16- 10/15 prior to abscission and leaf fall. Of the 65 Ash trees studied, the mean number of perched birds was 0.1 individuals per tree and on the mean canopy cover was 19.5% which could have included vines, neighboring trees, and dead branches. There was a weak positive relationship between percent canopy cover and perched birds (R2 =0.04). During the observed study times, the birds that were present were not apex predators and no woodpeckers were observed. Nest remnants were not present in infected ash trees, but there were no significant differences between the number of nest remnants between Ash trees and adjacent trees (p=0.128). Perhaps visiting the tree multiple times and before daybreak would have revealed a greater number and diversity of avian species that utilize the tree. Based on the results of the study, we recommend replanting native tree species that are not affected by the EAB to provide habitat and reduce erosion.