Eastern hemlock is a long-lived, slow growing climax species in North America currently undergoing a major decline in population due to a combination of effects derived from hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) as well as changing climate patterns. Data was collected in an old-growth, riparian hemlock forest within the West Virginia University Research Forest to understand the effect of monthly climate factors (mean temperature, mean precipitation, and climate moisture index (CMI)) on hemlock radial growth. Results indicated that March mean temperature and May CMI of the current growth year are positively associated with hemlock growth whereas prior year summer conditions of each climate variable resulted in negative correlations. Spring temperature as well as winter precipitation of the current year also lessened hemlock growth. Many of the significant relationships ascertained by this study were well supported by other studies; however, increased June precipitation and CMI resulting in a reduction in growth may be explained by summer storm damage or root anoxia, resulting in lessened growth1,2. Also, previous studies conducted south of the study area found winter precipitation to positively affect growth; this incongruence is explainable by differences in precipitation types and how heavy snow could contribute to hemlock damage2. Through the establishment of these relationships, it may be better understood how riparian, old-growth hemlock stands within central Appalachia will respond to changing monthly climate patterns.
Holden, John B. IV; Chhin, Sophan; Hirsch, Andrew; and Yetter, Eric
"Preliminary Assessment of Climatic Sensitivity of Riparian Old-Growth Eastern Hemlock,"
Mountaineer Undergraduate Research Review: Vol. 6
, Article 5.
Available at: https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/murr/vol6/iss1/5