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History of sugar maple declineAuthor(s): David R. Houston
Source: In: Horsley, Stephen B.; Long, Robert P., eds. Sugar maple ecology and health: proceedings of an international symposium; 1998 June 2-4; Warren, PA. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-261. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 19-26.
Publication Series: Other
Station: Northeastern Research Station
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DescriptionOnly a few episodes of sugar maple dieback or decline were recorded during the first half of the 20th Century. In contrast, the last 50 years have provided numerous reports of both urban and forest dieback/decline. In the late 1950s, a defoliation-triggered decline, termed maple blight, that occurred in Wisconsin prompted the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary study of a sugar maple decline. That research, and other investigations since, provided the conceptual framework for a model of sequential, stress initiated cause and effect for dieback/decline disease. Many cases of urban maple dieback/decline have been attributed to soil compaction, drought, impeded soil water availability, or toxic effects of road deicing salt. Most cases of forest or sugarbush decline have been associated with the initiating stresses of insect defoliation or drought, singly or in concert. Mortality of stressed trees is often caused or hastened when roots or twigs are invaded by opportunistic, secondary organisms, espectalty the root rot fungi Armillaria spp. (and probably Xylaria sp.). In the past two decades, freezing of roots associated with periods of thaw-freeze and of deep cold, especially when snow cover was minimal or lacking, have been correlated with major decline episodes In eastern Canada and northern New England and New York. An hypothesis that dieback results when death of roots leads to transpiration-stress and vessel cavitation is supported by observations that dieback/deciine episodes attributed to droughts appear correlated temporarily with prior root-freeze events. Such events are now believed responsible for the serious maple dieback/decline problems in southern Ouebec in the 1980-1990s that at first ware hypothesized to result from atmospheric deposition. While atmospheric deposition has been discounted as a direct cause of maple declines, the long-term and perhaps complex effects on tree health of deposltion-hastened changes in soil chemistry, especially in areas with soils susceptible to acidification, are the primary subjects of current investigations.
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CitationHouston, David R. 1999. History of sugar maple decline. In: Horsley, Stephen B.; Long, Robert P., eds. Sugar maple ecology and health: proceedings of an international symposium; 1998 June 2-4; Warren, PA. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-261. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station: 19-26.
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