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Ellison Abstract- 2011 Sackett et al

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Sackett, T. E., S. Record, S. Bewick, B. Baiser, N. J. Sanders, and A. M. Ellison. 2011. Response of macroarthropod assemblages to the loss of hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), a foundation species. Ecosphere 2: art74.


In eastern North American forests, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is a foundation species. As hemlock is lost from forests due to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) and pre-emptive salvage logging, the structure of assemblages of species associated with hemlock is expected to change. We manipulated hemlock canopy structure at hectare scales to investigate the effects of hemlock death on assemblages of ants, beetles, and spiders in a New England forest. Relative to reference hemlock stands, both in situ death of hemlock and logging and removal of hemlock altered composition and diversity of beetles and spiders, and logging increased the species richness and evenness of ant assemblages. Species composition of ant assemblages in disturbed habitats was non-random relative to the regional species pool, but we found no evidence that interspecific competition shaped the structure of ant, beetle or spider assemblages, in either manipulated or intact forest stands. Environmental filtering by hemlock appears to maintain low levels of species richness and evenness in forest stands, suggesting that the loss of hemlock due to the hemlock woolly adelgid or human activities will not likely lead to extirpations of ant, beetle, or spider species at local scales.

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