In the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas and southern Missouri, an oak decline event, coupled with epidemic populations of red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus Haldeman), has resulted in extensive red oak (Quercus spp., section Lobatae) mortality. Twenty-four northern red oak trees, Quercus rubra L., infested with red oak borer, were felled in the Ozark National Forest between March 2002 and June 2003. Infested tree boles were cut into 0.5-m sample bolts, and the following red oak borer population variables were measured: current generation galleries, live red oak borer, emergence holes, and previous generation galleries. Population density estimates from sampling plans using varying numbers of samples taken randomly and systematically were compared with total census measurements for the entire infested tree bole. Systematic sampling consistently yielded lower percent root mean square error (%RMSE) than random sampling. Systematic sampling of one half of the tree (every other 0.5-m sample along the tree bole) yielded the lowest values. Estimates from plans systematically sampling one half the tree and systematic proportional sampling using seven or nine samples did not differ significantly from each other and were within 25% RMSE of the “true” mean. Thus, we recommend systematically removing and dissecting seven 0.5-m samples from infested trees as an optimal sampling plan for monitoring red oak borer within-tree population densities. This optimal sampling plan should allow for collection of acceptably accurate within-tree population density data for this native wood-boring insect and reducing labor and costs of dissecting whole trees.
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