We integrate research, management, and outreach to conserve New York State’s hemlock resources in the face of multiple threats, particularly the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect. Additionally, we help coordinate state-wide efforts of land owners, state and federal agencies, government officials, and concerned citizens to partner in hemlock tree conservation throughout New York.
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We aim to implement and assess the efficacy of biological control as a long-term management strategy for hemlock woolly adelgid in New York’s forests
We work with state agencies and local conservation groups to manage HWA and provide management information for landowners
We connect with partners around the state to plan educational events, scout for HWA, and collect data to improve our research efforts
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA)
HWA is an invasive forest pest from southern Japan that decimates native populations of the Eastern hemlock tree. It is most apparent as white, woolly puffballs clumped near the base of needles along hemlock twigs. Its damage to hemlock trees in southern U.S. states has been immense and, as this insect pest moves north, New York’s hemlocks are at risk.
Eastern hemlock is New York’s third most common tree species and a foundation species in our forests. Hemlocks are important for maintaining healthy wildlife habitats as well as human interests such as clean fresh water resources and their loss would drastically change our landscape.
HWA in New York
HWA first arrived in New York in the 1980s and has since been found in 43 counties. Infestations most likely arrived via infested nursery stock. HWA has caused considerable damage to hemlocks on Long Island, and in the Lower Hudson region and southern Catskills. Infestations have been found throughout the Finger Lakes region and in 2017 the first HWA sighting in the Adirondacks was reported. Through research, management, and help from citizen scientists, we hope to slow the spread of HWA, reduce its impact, and implement an effective biocontrol management strategy.
The Whitmore Lab
For the past decade, Cornell forest entomologist Mark Whitmore has been working to implement effective biological controls throughout New York to manage HWA populations. Now with a full team of researchers and educators, the New York State Hemlock Initiative is working to improve lab rearing techniques for HWA predator insects, develop field protocols for successful biocontrol establishment outside of the lab, and spread the word about hemlock conservation.
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