Responses of insect pests, pathogens, and invasive plant species to climate change in the forests of northeastern North America: What can we predict?

Academic Article


  • Climate models project that by 2100, the northeastern US and eastern Canada will warm by approximately 3–5 °C, with increased winter precipitation. These changes will affect trees directly and also indirectly through effects on “nuisance” species, such as insect pests, pathogens, and invasive plants. We review how basic ecological principles can be used to predict nuisance species’ responses to climate change and how this is likely to impact northeastern forests. We then examine in detail the potential responses of two pest species (hemlock woolly adelgid ( Adelges tsugae Annand) and forest tent caterpillar ( Malacosoma disstria Hubner)), two pathogens (armillaria root rot ( Armillaria spp.) and beech bark disease ( Cryptococcus fagisuga Lind. + Neonectria spp.)), and two invasive plant species (glossy buckthorn ( Frangula alnus Mill.) and oriental bittersweet ( Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb.)). Several of these species are likely to have stronger or more widespread effects on forest composition and structure under the projected climate. However, uncertainty pervades our predictions because we lack adequate data on the species and because some species depend on complex, incompletely understood, unstable relationships. While targeted research will increase our confidence in making predictions, some uncertainty will always persist. Therefore, we encourage policies that allow for this uncertainty by considering a wide range of possible scenarios.
  • Authors

  • Dukes, Jeffrey S
  • Pontius, Jennifer
  • Orwig, David
  • Garnas, Jeffrey
  • Rodgers, Vikki L
  • Brazee, Nicholas
  • Cooke, Barry
  • Theoharides, Kathleen A
  • Stange, Erik E
  • Harrington, Robin
  • Ehrenfeld, Joan
  • Gurevitch, Jessica
  • Lerdau, Manuel
  • Stinson, Kristina
  • Wick, Robert
  • Ayres, Matthew
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • February 2009
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 231
  • End Page

  • 248
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 2