HTIRC is a collaborative national research, development and technology transfer center for hardwood stewardship.
From Farm to Forest, Songlin Fei has built
a career and better life.
HTIRC researchers are working to advance the science of hardwood tree quality, growth, and insect and disease resistance.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. —Since the emerald ash borer’s introduction to the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, forest ecologists and government officials have striven to stem its destruction of ash forests. Despite those efforts, the invasive pest may be winning the war.
Mining 16 years of U.S. Forestry Service Forest Inventory Analysis data for 960 counties, Purdue University professor Songlin Fei has shown that in impacted areas, young trees are dying before they can reach their reproductive stages. Unable to compete with larger trees or resist the emerald ash borer, American ash trees may be doomed to functional extinction.
Butternut (Juglans cinerea L.) is a medium-sized, exceptionally cold-hardy (USDA zone 3) hardwood
tree native to Eastern North America (Dirr 2009, Rink 1990). The economically valuable wood of this species is easily worked and rot-resistant, making it ideal for furniture, paneling, veneer, and carving (Goodell 1984, Michler et al. 2005, Ostry et al. 1994). Butternut also holds ecological value as a mast species, providing energy-rich food for wildlife (and humans) with its large, oily kernels (Ostry et al. 1994). However, butternut canker disease, caused by the fungus Ophiognomonia clavigignenti-juglandacearum ([Nair, Kostichka, & Kuntz] Broders & Boland), has caused rapid declines in butternut populations since its discovery in 1967 (Broders and Boland 2011). The species is now classified as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (Stritch and Barstow 2019) and is listed under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA) (Environment Canada 2010). In the United States, butternut has a conservation status of either “critically imperiled,” “imperiled,” or “vulnerable” in 21 States (NatureServe 2019).