Biomechanical responses of hemlock to herbivory

Soltis et al. study the impact of feeding by hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae, on the biomechanics of eastern hemlock trees, Tsuga canadensis.
Biomechanical responses of hemlock to herbivory
Biomechanical responses of hemlock to herbivory

Exotic invasive herbivores can overwhelm poorly defended native hosts, and result in reduced growth and survival. Severe damage may also alter the biomechanics of the attacked plant. Soltis et al. study the impact of feeding by hemlock woolly adelgid, Adelges tsugae, on the biomechanics of eastern hemlock trees, Tsuga canadensis, and find evidence of weakness and brittleness in attacked twigs and needles. Changes in resource allocation may contribute to these mechanical effects, and can increase plant susceptibility to subsequent mechanical stresses, such as wind or snow load. The interaction between herbivory and physical environmental stresses is probably accelerating the decline of eastern hemlock in North America.