Damaged Trees and Their Sufferings

This topic submitted by Jay Axe, Matt Cottrill, Paula Moran, Neal Rosonthal (cottrijm@miamioh.edu) at 9:41 pm on 10/18/00. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Section: Myers


More damaged trees exist on the fringe areas of a forest than on the interior of a forest. Considered in this lab the possible forms of damage will be insect infestation and wind damage. To gather information for this topic, we will be examining damaged trees within the proximity of Western College of Miami University of Oxford, Ohio.
In first researching the topic of trees, we specialized in the Osage orange and the effects of landscape location on the tree’s general health. Upon researching this species of tree, we found that the Osage orange species are extremely resistant to damage and are equipped to gather water in any location. Also, these trees are too sparse to study to find effects that the landscape has on the general health of the Osage orange Tree. While studying these trees preliminarily, we stumbled upon the realization that due to impending season change the Osage orange tree would soon be loosing its leaves and all the green monkey-brained shaped fruit had fallen of the tree. Therefore, obtaining accurate data under these circumstances would be near impossible.
While out observing Osage orange trees, we had noticed one particular tree with extreme damage to its lower branches. This made us think about tree damage throughout the forest. After we had realized that we could not pursue the Osage orange tree lab and we were considering our other options, we decided upon studying tree damage as a whole. Then, in attempting to apply tree damage to the universal class theme of landscape ecology we decided to compare tree damage between different landscapes. With further group analysis and discussion our lab group decided upon narrowing the focus of the student generated lab to comparing tree damage between the fringe and interior areas of the forest. After researching our new student generated lab topic, and discussing the research we hypothesized that the fringe areas of a forest would receive more damage because they are more exposed to the natural elements, and the trees on the fringe area of a forest are exposed to different types of landscapes. The trees on the fringe are exposed to the fringe landscape, part of the interior landscape of a forest, since that is what it boarders, and then whatever landscape lies on the other side of the fringe from the interior section. This other landscape is normally a more open landscape, a grassy landscape, a corridor landscape, or a landscape whose tree population is far less dense than that of the interior, or fringe of a forest. It was thru all these discussions, periods of research, analysis and deductions that we finally emerged at our final hypothesis that is submitted in this lab packet.

Relevance of your research question
Research on articles about tree damage and its causes included many different types of studies and conclusions that were helpful in producing our lab and hypothesis. The articles contained research about what caused the specific tree damage. The types of damage that we read about were wind and insect damage. One article describes certain tree structural defects, such as dense crown, too narrow or wide of a crotch, that make trees prone to damage, but the article does not say what locations make trees prone to damage (Sunset). A dense crown is described in this article as a top-heavy canopy of foliage that is prone to catching wind, which causes tree limbs to snap. Next, a narrow crotch is defined as a limb growing almost vertical, which can cause the wind to spilt the crotch and, thereby, breaking off the limb. Inversely, too wide a crotch, or an almost horizontal limb, can receive stress from wind and weight of rainwater on foliage. Thusly, in our lab we may infer that if there is no apparent insect damage that the cause of limb breakage is due the tree having either too dense of a crown or having a narrow or wide crotch. In another study of wind damage, set up testing the strength of trees in serve wind areas, for classification of trees damaged by wind uses the terms bent, leaning, snapped, and uprooted (Cooper-Ellis et. al.). To relate this to our lab, we will be employing these terms to describe the trunks and/or limbs of the wind-damaged trees.
To further our investigation, studying research on insect damage has given us needed insights into classifying insect damage. One study, studying the effects of leaf-eating caterpillar damage to young trees, found that if a young tree is damaged by these insects it will be healthier in the long run compared to trees that were not infested (McDonald). Because our study is being executed during the autumnal season, we will be excluding this observation, but this information to know for future studies. Another study describes how Long-Horned beetles specifically threaten any trees in the United States (Milis). It goes on to describe the damaged caused by adult beetles, which are tunnels bored into the interior of the tree. The author desires to bring to our attention how to rid the US of these pests. Identification of these beetles is the first step of getting rid of them. In the article, they are described as “shiny, jet-black beetles with distinctive white spots” (Milis 3). In our lab, if we can identify these beetles in the vicinity of Western College, we can help rid the US of these destructive pests. Therefore, in our study, we will be asking the class to identify if there are telltale markings of these pests and if they can identify these insects directly. Thusly, an add-on to out lab is identification of these pests, so as to help in the war against them.
Our research expanded on type of damage to find out where tree damage occurs. This knowledge can be used to know where trees should be planted in order to ensure their safety from tree damage.

Materials and Methods
Doing this lab, we will be compiling information via the class’s data collection on charts that we will provide for them. In preparation for this data collection, we will be using a GPS unit to locate 30-40 damaged trees within walking distance of Western campus. This number of sample trees is the desired minimum number for an accurate study. These trees will be damaged by either infestation by pests or wind damage. They will also be located along the fringe of wooded areas and interiors of patches as well. The fringe in defined here as ten feet into the patch from the furthest tree located on the outside of the patch, while the interior is anything ten feet from the exterior rim of the patch. Before having the class gather data for our lab, we will be assigning them certain trees to investigate. In addition to the chart we will be giving them, we will provide a map of the trees’ locations, the types of trees, and the heights and diameters of the trees. All of this information is the data we will collect before our presentation to the class. In order to find the heights and diameters, we will need tape measures and a rangefinder with which to accurately portray our results. We will also flag these trees with orange ribbon, in order to make them easier to find during the research class period. The data we will be asking the class to collect can be done in or out of class, depending on weather conditions. If the weather is nice, we will be asking the class to collect data during the class period and finish the rest out of class. If the weather is bad, we will be presenting an in depth Power Point Presentation that will explain all of our lab intents and how to collect the data efficiently.
Here is a preliminary example of the chart that we will provide:

Tree Type We Provide
Type of Location(Fringe or Interior)
SizeHeightDiameter We ProvideTrunk: Provided Crown: Provided
Type of Damage(Insect or Wind) We Provide
Characteristics of Damage
If wind:1. Broken limbs? 2.Angled growth? 3. Missing Bark?
If insect:1. Dead limbs? 2. Rotten spots? 3.Insect holes? 4.Missing Bark?
5.Insect Nests?
Distance to closest 3 trees (of any type)
Distance to closest infected tree
Distance to closest infected tree of same species (If it exists)Is this tree infected?

Using the results from this chart, we can accurately describe what type of damage occurs most often in which area of wooded areas and whether or not we can say that trees on the fringes of trees are have more damage than those located on the interior of the wooded areas. All of the information will be plotted in the form of histograms and statistical charts to show our results in an orderly fashion. Finding out how much damage a tree has will help us prove or disprove our hypothesis in accordance to our data results. Also, noting how close other infected trees are may tell us if this damage is transferred from tree to tree, whether within one species or if across species.

Intended Results

Our group believes that the trees growing on the fringe of the forest will have more damage than the trees in the interior. The trees on the fringe of the forest are more susceptible to wind damage. We predict that only the most rugged trees can live on the fringe. These trees act as a protective barrier to other trees in the interior. Flexible trees have a better chance of surviving on the fringe if they can sway in attempts to withstand powerful winds.
The trees on interior of the forest will probably have less insect damage. But, there is probably a larger amount of insects living on the interior of the forest that could more easily damage a tree. Because of this, trees create a resistance or immunity to the pests. That is why we believe that the trees will have a higher resistance to damage on the interior of the forest. The trees on the fringe will not have as much resistance built up from less contact from insects.
We intend to find a large amount of broken limbs on the fringe of the forest due to the lack of protection of wind. We also think that there will be a higher density of insect infestation on the interior of the forest. Therefore damage dispersal has to deal with the type of damage and the location of the tree.

Sources Used

“Induced defense in white oaks: Effects on herbivores, and consequences for the plant.” Ecology July 1994: 1356-1369.

“Prevent tree damage from storms.” Sunset Fall/Winter, 1996. < http://www.findarticles. com/cf_0/m1216/1996_Fall-Winter/18691386/print.jhtml

“What Tree is it.” Ohio Public Library Information Network and The Ohio Historical Society, 11 June 1997, 27 September 2000, .

“Deciduous Tree Diseases.” R. W. Stack and H. A. Lamey, North Dakota State Univeristy, November 1995

“Tree Damage Indicator.” Forest Heath Monitoring, Facts Sheets Series

Cooper-Ellis, Sarah, et. al., “Forest Response to Catastrophic Wind: Results from an Experimental Hurricane.” Ecology December 1999: 2683 – 2695.

King, Sandra M. and Morehart, A.L., “Tissue Culture of Osage-orange.” HortScience June 1988: 613-615.

Lee, Sang-Jun, et. al., “Prenylated Flavonoids from Maclura Pomifera.” Phytochemistry. 1998: 2573-2577

Milius, Susan “Son of Long-Horned Beetles. (Asian long-horned beetles threaten U.S. trees).” Science News 12 July 1999.< http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/m1200/24 _155 /55041150/print.jhtml

Sand, Susan, “A Tree History, The Osage Orange.” American Horticulturist October 1991: 37-39.

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