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Tuesday, January 30 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
FOREST & GRASSLAND SONGBIRDS: Response of Larval Lepidoptera and Their Avian Predators to Experimental Ice Storms in a Northeastern Forest

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AUTHORS. Wendy Leuenberger, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Jonathan Cohen, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry; Lindsey Rustad, U.S. Forest Service; Kimberly Wallin, University of Vermont and U.S. Forest Service; Dylan Parry, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry

ABSTRACT. Large-scale disturbances such as ice storms may increase in frequency and intensity as climate changes. While disturbances are a natural component of forest ecosystems, climatically driven alteration to historical patterns may impart fundamental change to ecosystem function. A novel project at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH, applied experimental ice storms of varying severity to replicate plots of mature northern hardwoods to develop an empirical understanding of their effects on forests. As part of this experiment, we quantified effects of ice storm treatments on leaf-feeding Lepidoptera (caterpillars), the most important herbivores in temperate forests. This group performs vital ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and are a valuable food source for breeding birds. Natural enemies, including insectivorous birds, help regulate their populations. As such, understanding dynamics of these groups after ice storms will aid in forest management and conservation.To assess responses to ice storm damage, we reared caterpillars on leaves from ice storm plots to calculate growth rates. We also deployed and retrieved plasticine model caterpillars and estimated predation from characteristic ‘wounds’ to these surrogates. Insectivorous bird activity was measured using point counts. Caterpillars reared on leaves from the high treatment plots grew faster than those on control or lightly treated plots. Caterpillar predation was not affected by ice storm treatments. Foliage gleaning birds responded to the ice storm treatments as a single diffuse disturbance rather than on a plot level. We conclude that ice storms may serve as a beneficial disturbance for caterpillars and foliage gleaning birds.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 2:40pm - 3:00pm

Attendees (9)