Our objective was to characterize the rate at which ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees decline in areas adjacent to the leading edge of visible ash canopy thinning due to emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Trees in southeastern Michigan were surveyed from 2003 to 2006 for canopy thinning and dieback by comparing survey trees with a set of 11 standard photographs. Freeways stemming from Detroit in all directions were used as survey transects. Between 750 and 1,100 trees were surveyed each year. A rapid method of sampling populations of emerald ash borer was developed by counting emerald ash borer emergence holes with binoculars and then felling trees to validate binocular counts. Approximately 25% of the trees surveyed for canopy thinning in 2005 and 2006 also were sampled for emerald ash borer emergence holes using binoculars. Regression analysis indicates that 41–53% of the variation in ash canopy thinning can be explained by the number of emerald ash borer emergence holes per tree. Emerald ash borer emergence holes were found at every site where ash canopy thinning averaged >40%. In 2003, ash canopy thinning averaged 40% at a distance of 19.3 km from the epicenter of the emerald ash borer infestation in Canton. By 2006, the point at which ash trees averaged 40% canopy thinning had increased to a distance of 51.2 km away from Canton. Therefore, the point at which ash trees averaged 40% canopy thinning, a state of decline clearly visible to the average person, moved outward at a rate of 10.6 km/yr during this period.
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Vol. 101 • No. 5