Laurel wilt disease is altering forests of the southeastern USA with widespread mortality to lauraceaous hosts, such as redbay (Persea borbonia (L.) Spreng.) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees). Sassafras is broadly distributed throughout the eastern USA and could serve as a pathway for laurel wilt disease spread into deciduous forests. The resulting invasion and widespread mortality of sassafras would affect these forests ecologically. In anticipation of this, we used preexisting vegetation data and the Forest Vegetation Simulator to predict future characteristics of invaded and noninvaded forests under two sassafras mortality scenarios, 33% and 99%. We calculated changes in total basal area and basal area of dominant species to assess the effects of invasion on forests of central Kentucky. We found that simulated sassafras mortality immediately resulted in significant declines to total basal area (0.87–2.32 m2/ha reductions) and also affected basal areas of selected species over time. Yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) and red maple (Acer rubrum L.) had the largest response to sassafras decline with long-term increases in basal area under both invasion scenarios. In contrast, the basal area of Quercus spp. as a whole only increased in the scenario with 99% sassafras mortality and only for a 15-yr period. Of the three oak species, black oak (Quercus velutina Lam.) was the only one to demonstrate significant long-term basal area increases, but again only within the 99% simulation. Our results suggest that if laurel wilt disease spreads north into deciduous forests, the resulting decline of sassafras will alter forest characteristics and affect ecological interactions, even at low levels of sassafras mortality.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.