Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Environmental and Forest Biology

Thesis Advisor

Dylan Parry

Abstract

Ice storms are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change. The impact this will have on northeastern forests is largely unknown. Increased ice storm frequency and intensity will likely change the structure and function of forested ecosystems. The consequences of this change have never before been studied in a controlled, experimental setting. The Ice Storm Experiment (ISE) at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in Woodstock, New Hampshire, imitated ice storms at three levels of severity: low, moderate, and high. Leaves were collected from sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and American beech (Fagus grandifolia) located within the plots. Relative leaf quality was assessed with gypsy moth larvae (Lymantria dispar dispar) bioassays. Larvae were allowed to feed on sugar maple of American beech leaves for approximately 72 hours in an incubation chamber. Caterpillar growth rate and caterpillar consumption rate were calculated to assess relative leaf quality. Growth rate was highest in the plots receiving the highest treatment of ice for both sugar maple and American beech. Consumption rate was lowest in the high treatment plots for both sugar maple and American beech. These findings suggest that leaf quality of these species is highest following a severe ice event. In the future, leaf chemical analyses will be conducted to determine the physical makeup of the leaves.

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