Elm Reintroduction Toolkit

Knight, K.S.; Haugen, L.M.; Pinchot, C.C.; Schaberg, P.G.; Slavicek, J.M. 2017. American elm (Ulmus americana) in restoration plantings: a review. In: Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Haugen, Linda M.; Flower, Charles E.; Slavicek, James M., eds. Proceedings of the American elm restoration workshop 2016; 2016 October 25-27; Lewis Center, OH. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-174. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 133-140.

Research Issue

[photo] Supervisory Research Biologist Jim Slavicek measuring the height of an American elm planted on the Finger Lakes National Forest.

Now that scientists have developed American elm trees that can survive Dutch elm disease (DED), we need to test methods for restoring and re-introducing the species in U.S. forests and cities. Before the arrival of DED in the early 1900s, American elms were important floodplain and swamp forest trees and were commonly planted in urban areas. DED greatly reduced the number of large elms in natural areas and wiped out most of the American elm trees in cities.

Ongoing research is identifying and developing DED-tolerant American elm varieties, with the goal of creating genetically diverse seed orchards for restoration planting in the coming decades. We need to identify site selection criteria and planting methods that have the highest possible chances of success. Through a suite of studies, we are developing a toolkit for elm reintroduction.

Our Research

  1. Testing planting methods: We are testing different planting methods and identifying potential problems with DED-tolerant seedlings at eight orchard-style test sites in four states. We are working with the Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program to identify factors affecting the growth and survival of disease tolerant American elms at 33 floodplain sites in New England. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, we are evaluating methods for planting large numbers of bare-root seedlings.
  2. Restoring degraded landscapes: We are testing ways to use elm trees for restoring forests after many different kinds of disturbances. This includes floodplains that have lost ash trees because of emerald ash borer, formerly grazed floodplain areas with disturbed soils, and reclaimed mine lands.
  3. Testing DED transmission through root grafting: We are doing an experiment to test the spread of DED after root grafting to determine whether DED-tolerant trees can resist infection via root grafts. If root grafting proves to be a problem, we will know to plant elm with other tree species, or with minimum distances between elms, to prevent spread of the disease.
  4. Testing the benefits of improved DED-tolerance: We are comparing the DED tolerance of seedlings from surviving elm trees in forests (that have some natural DED tolerance) versus elm seedlings grown at a seed orchard. This will help us understand and measure the benefits of using DED-tolerant seed orchards.
  5. Testing how new elm selections perform in urban environments: We are specifically interested in how American elm seedlings that have been bred for DED tolerance handle urban stressors such as soil compaction and high air temperature.

Expected Outcomes

We will use the results of these studies to create guidelines and recommendations for planting DED-tolerant American elms in a variety of settings.

Research Results

Knight, K.S.; Haugen, L.M.; Pinchot, C.C.; Schaberg, P.G.; Slavicek, J.M. 2017. American elm (Ulmus americana) in restoration plantings: a review. In: Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Haugen, Linda M.; Flower, Charles E.; Slavicek, James M., eds. Proceedings of the American elm restoration workshop 2016; 2016 October 25-27; Lewis Center, OH. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-174. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 133-140.

Flower, Charles E.; Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Slavicek, James M. 2017. Restoring ecosystem resilience to urban forests using Dutch elm disease-tolerant American elm trees. In: Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Haugen, Linda M.; Flower, Charles E.; Slavicek, James M., eds. Proceedings of the American elm restoration workshop 2016; 2016 October 25-27; Lewis Center, OH. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-174. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 141-142.

Pinchot, C.C.; Flower, C.E.; Knight, K.S.; Marks, C.; Minocha, R.; Lesser, D.; Woeste, K.; Schaberg, P.G.; Baldwin, B.; Delatte, D.M.; Fox, T.D.; Hayes-Plazolles, N.; Held, B.; Lehtoma, K.; Long, S.; Mattix, S.; Sipes, A.; Slavicek, J.M. 2017. Development of new Dutch Elm disease-tolerant selections for restoration of the American Elm in urban and forested landscapes. In: Sniezko, Richard A.; Man, Gary; Hipkins, Valerie; Woeste, Keith; Gwaze, David; Kliejunas, John T.; McTeague, Brianna A., tech. cords. 2017. Gene conservation of tree species—banking on the future. Proceedings of a workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-963. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 53-63.

Haugen, Linda M.; Bentz, Susan E. 2017. American elm clones of importance in Dutch elm disease tolerance studies. In: Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Haugen, Linda M.; Flower, Charles E.; Slavicek, James M., eds. Proceedings of the American elm restoration workshop 2016; 2016 October 25-27; Lewis Center, OH. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-174. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 109-118.

Flower, Charles E.; Slavicek, James M.; Lesser, Dale; Eshita, Steven; Pinchot, Cornelia C. 2017. Canopy decline assessment in American elm after inoculation with different doses of Ophiostoma ulmi and O. novo-ulmi. In: Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Knight, Kathleen S.; Haugen, Linda M.; Flower, Charles E.; Slavicek, James M., eds. Proceedings of the American elm restoration workshop 2016; 2016 October 25-27; Lewis Center, OH. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-174. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 24-29.

Pinchot, C.C.; Lodge, D.J.; Minocha, R.; Noon, T.W.; D’Amico, V.; Flower, C.; Knight, K.M.; Slavicek, J. 2017. Using American elm in mixed-species plantings to restore above- and below-ground function to degraded riparian buffers. In: Sniezko, Richard A.; Man, Gary; Hipkins, Valerie; Woeste, Keith; Gwaze, David; Kliejunas, John T.; McTeague, Brianna A., tech. cords. 2017. Gene conservation of tree species—banking on the future. Proceedings of a workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-963. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. p. 199.

Iverson, L.; Knight, K.S.; Prasad, A.; Herms, D.A.; Matthews, S.; Peters, M.; Smith, A.; Hartzler, D.M.; Long, R.; Almendinger J. 2016. Potential species replacements for black ash (Fraxinus nigra) at the confluence of two threats: emerald ash borer and a changing climate. Ecosystems. 19(2):248-270.

Adams, M.B.; Angel, P.; Barton, C.; Slavicek, J. 2015. American elm in mine land reforestation. Reclamation Matters. Fall 2015:34-38.

Looney, C.E.; D’Amato, A.W.; Palik, B.J.; Slesak, R.A. 2015. Overstory treatment and planting season affect survival of replacement tree species in emerald ash borer threatened Fraxinus nigra forests in Minnesota, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 2015, 45(12):1728-1738.

Slavicek, J.M. 2013. Development of methods for the restoration of the American elm in forested landscapes. In: Sniezko, R.A.; Yanchuk, A.D.; Kliejunas, J.T.; Palmieri, K.M.; Alexander, J.M.; Frankel S.J., tech. coords. Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on the Genetics of Host-Parasite Interactions in Forestry: Disease and Insect Resistance in Forest Trees. 2011 July 31 – August 5; Eugene, OR. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-240. Albany, CA: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 337-341.

Knight, K.S.; Slavicek, J.M.; Kappler, R.; Pisarczyk, E.; Wiggin, B.; Menard, K. 2012. Using Dutch elm disease-tolerant elm to restore floodplains impacted by emerald ash borer. In: Sniezko, R.A.; Yanchuk, A.D.; Kliejunas, J.T.; Palmieri, K.M.; Alexander, J.M.; Frankel S.J., tech. coords. Proceedings of the 4th International Workshop on the Genetics of Host-Parasite Interactions in Forestry: Disease and Insect Resistance in Forest Trees. 2011 July 31 – August 5; Eugene, OR. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-240. Albany, CA: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 317-323.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

Research Partners

 

  • Last modified: May 6, 2019