Saving a seminal species

White Pine treeA native fungal pathogen that has increasingly damaged eastern white pine throughout New England in the last three decades has been found to be most severe in stressed, weakened trees, such as those growing in poor soils or in extremely dense, overstocked stands.

Extremes in climate also are predisposing trees to more damage due to drought and record precipitation, according to University of Maine researchers.

The UMaine research team, led by William Livingston, associate director of the UMaine School of Forest Resources, and Kara Costanza, a Ph.D. candidate in forest resources, expects to issue a management plan for eastern white pine in the coming year. It will be based on the findings of their three-year project focused on the health concerns resulting from Caliciopsis pinea and its impact on the region’s forest products industry. Recommendations will aim to reduce future infestations and limit the amount of damage caused by the pathogen.

Since the late 1990s, forest health specialists have found increasingly significant damage to white pine from the Caliciopsis canker — first in central New Hampshire and then elsewhere in New England. In their project, UMaine researchers are collaborating with the U.S. Forest Service, New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, Maine Forest Service, Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, and regional foresters and loggers.

They are studying C. pinea to understand how it biologically affects trees, the pathogen’s incidence and severity, and its impact on the forest products industry. Proactive forest management practices such as thinning will aim at improving the health and value of the seminal species.