Monday, December 11, 2006 - 9:59 AM

Recovery of live oaks and associated arthropods following Hurricane Katrina

Julie A. Dobbs,, Mississippi State University, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, 103 Clay Lyle, Box 9775, Mississippi State, MS, David W. Held,, Mississippi State University, Coastal Research and Extension Center, 1815 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS, and T. Evan Nebeker,, Mississippi State University, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Box 9775, Mississippi State, MS.

We are evaluating communities of arthropods in the canopy of live oaks (Quercus virginiana) and adjacent soil, following Hurricane Katrina in coastal Mississippi. A total of six research sites are established with each site containing twelve study trees (n=72). Three sites were saltwater inundated (flooded) and three were non-saltwater inundated (non-flooded). Flooded sites include: University of Southern Mississippi in Long Beach; Beauvoir and Keesler Air Force base (residential area), both in Biloxi. Non-flooded sites include: Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gulfport; Veterans Administration complex, Biloxi; and Keesler Air Force base (recreation area). All trees within the study were wind stressed and all are located in urban areas. Treatment regimens were implemented in order to determine the best way to treat these mature trees after a catastrophic event, such as a hurricane. Three treatments were imposed on the study trees: controls, low maintenance and high maintenance. Control trees were monitored and received no treatment. Low maintenance, or homeowner regime, included a one-meter ring of mulch and irrigation as needed. High maintenance, or professional regime, included soil aeration, a three-meter ring of mulch, irrigation and insecticides when deemed appropriate. Abiotic conditions (weather) and biotic factors (tree health) were monitored or evaluated on all trees. Arthropods in the canopy were collected using a beat-bag method while soil inhabiting insects were sampled by baiting (for ants) or soil core samples along transects on each site. Trees on flooded sites were 85% defoliated on average versus 62% on average defoliation for trees on non-flooded sites. Results of arthropod sampling in the soil and canopy, as well as tree growth parameters will be discussed.

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