Featured Five Flora and Fauna



Woolly Adelgid

If you visited the site during October’s Tree Week, you may remember the Eastern Hemlock. In dedication to forest preservation, we are now featuring the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Adelgids are a very tiny insect species that comes in two major forms. There are Gall Adelgids which produce raised, sometimes pointed masses on trees and the woolly adelgid which produces fuzzy masses on trees. This particular woolly adelgid attacks the Eastern Hemlock. The immature adelgid is mostly inactive until winter where it will then start feeding on the plant sap from twigs. They continue to feed until they reach adulthood. At this stage, they resemble fuzzy white balls. These insects can severely drain a tree and already stressed trees will likely die after a couple of years. Healthier ones can survive for longer, but still have a bleak outlook. One method of controlling the woolly adelgid population is through chemical sprays. If you’ve noticed orange marks on trees along the Pinnacles trails, those trees have been treated for Woolly Adelgid. Other methods of control include breeding more resistant Eastern Hemlocks and introducing natural predators of the parasitic insect.
Source: https://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/disturbance/invasive_species/hwa/



Horses have been very important throughout history as hardy work animals. Today, most work is done using heavy machinery, but horses still have an important place in logging, particularly in Restorative Forestry. To improve the health and quality of the forest, people practice selective harvesting, removing poorer quality trees and leaving the better ones. This allows the ecosystem’s higher quality trees to thrive. Horse logging leaves relatively small skid trails. Lastly, producing a horse is much simpler than a machine. This is beneficial for the environment. Breeding your machinery requires much less money than buying it. This is very important for those looking to do small-scale logging since the upfront cost may be too much.The Forestry Department of Berea College has several horses used for logging. To learn more about their operation, visit their Facebook page here.

Shortleaf Pine

Shortleaf Pine was at one point extremely common in the United States. However, it has been in a sharp decline in recent decades. There are many factors that have led to the decline of this tree. One major impact is the southern pine beetle. These beetles devastate shortleaf pine trees by feeding on their phloem tissue, which is the vascular system that transports sugars around. This will kill the tree once a colony of beetles is formed on it. However, these beetles aren’t the only cause of the decline of shortleaf pines. Past movements to stifle any forest fires have negatively impacted the competitiveness of these trees. Shortleaf pines are very fire resistant, but cannot compete with neighboring trees. Therefore, periodic fires can help even the playing field for the shortleaf pine so that it will still have a place in our ecosystem. Our own forestry team conducts prescribed fires in Berea’s forests for this reason. Preserving the shortleaf pine is very important. At a basic level, preserving biodiversity in forests is always good because it prevents any one species of tree from dominating the forest composition. Preserving tree diversity can act as a buffer should a disease or pest species be introduced to the forest. Preserving Shortleaf Pines is also important since the wood has value for general construction and for making paper.
Source: http://www.shortleafpine.net/




Ruffed Grouse

This bird is medium sized and ranges in color from grayish to brown. The “Ruffed” part of the name comes from a black band that is displayed around the neck during courtship. They also make a drumming sound by beating their wings while standing on a log as a mating call. These birds are widespread through the US and appear in 38 states. They tend to eat leaves, fruits, and insects from the ground, but can also eat small reptiles like snakes and frogs. These birds live solitarily and don’t form bonds after mating. Their solitary lifestyle is evidenced by the way the young behave. Very shortly after hatching, the young leave the nest and fend for themselves. They have very short, irregular lifespans and many die before reproducing. Populations of grouse that reproduce slowly dwindle until only a few survive. This species of bird has a turbulent population size that will fluctuate through the years. However, it has been on a general decline since the mid-20th century. One theory about its decline is its popularity as a game bird. Therefore, to preserve this species, hunting is regulated in many areas. Furthermore, like many other species, fire suppression has hurt their population. The Ruffed Grouse struggles more in older forests here trees are very dense. Therefore, this species also benefits from the prescribed fires on Berea College forest lands.



Chestnut Blight

This fungus is a parasite that infects the highly susceptible American Chestnut. When American chestnut trees are infected with this fungus it causes what is referred to as Chestnut Blight. It is a canker disease meaning that it infects open wounds in the tree and creates a colony. This prevents the wound from healing and it instead continuously grows until the tree dies. This fungus is not native to America, but was introduced by the importation of Chinese Chestnut trees that have much better resistance to it. Chinese Chestnut trees still develop cankers, but theirs tend not to grow and are usually limited to branches. Since the American Chestnut is extremely important to the Appalachian ecosystem, many efforts have been made to combat the fungus. One method is through crossbreeding with the Chinese Chestnut to gain resistance. This process is difficult  since it takes several generations of trees to ensure good resistance without compromising on the uniqueness of the American Chestnut. Another very interesting method for combating the fungus is through inoculation. Some cankers stop growing or grow slowly enough that the tree can survive. When the fungus is taken from these cankers and introduced to other trees, normal, fast-growing cankers can sometimes slow or stop their growth. Researchers hope this treatment will turn a deadly disease into a minor health issue. A kiosk outside the Forestry Outreach Center provides more information about the history of the American Chestnut and the restorative forestry involved with it.

Source: https://forestpathology.org/canker/chestnut-blight/