Researchers cited in Down East article on beech tree effects on environment

In an article on the challenges surrounding Maine’s beech tree population, Down East magazine cited a paper by University of Maine researchers Arun Bose and Aaron Weiskittel, with Purdue University colleague Robert Wagner. The paper, published in The Journal of Applied Ecology, showed a population explosion of beech trees in the state over the past few decades, which has negative ecological implications as beeches crowd out other tree species and, due to a bark disease, are themselves useless for commercial purposes. The research was published last year but did not receive significant media attention until recently, according to the article. Weiskittel said he was concerned coverage overemphasized the influence of climate change. The research showed an association with climate, though the proliferation of beeches is due more to their susceptibility to a bark disease and the tendency of beeches to generate multiple new saplings upon death from the disease, Weiskittel said. He recommended management techniques such as cutting diseased trees in the winter when they cannot regenerate, and explained that climate change will have more of an impact on the phenomenon in the future when it decreases the length of winter and the available window for management.