Aspen Bibliography

Summary of mortality statistics and forest health monitoring results for the northeastern United States

Document Type

Contribution to Book


S.G. Pallardy, R.A. Cecich, H.G. Garrett, P.S. Johnson

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings of the 11th Central Hardwood Forest Conference

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Last Page


Publication Date



The USDA Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program and the Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program maintain networks of sample locations providing coarse-scale information that characterize general indicators of forest health. Tree mortality is the primary FIA variable for analyzing forest health. Recent FIA inventories of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia reveal that the current rate of mortality, expressed as percent of basal area of live trees, is 1.01. The Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana) and Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) forest types, growing along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, had high rates of mortality compared to the average rate for the study region. By diameter class, mortality rates were above average in the two smallest diameter classes and the largest diameter class. Counties with above-average mortality were concentrated in northern New York, the southern half of Pennsylvania, and in a patchwork pattern in West Virginia. The top five mortality species/species groups were American elm (Ulmus americana), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), aspen (Populus grandidentata and P. tremuloides), and Virginia pine. The FHM program used crown density, foliage transparency, and crown dieback as indicators of forest health. The most current FHM results indicate that 97.3% of hardwood sample trees in New England and 97.5 in the three Mid-Atlantic states had crown density of greater than 20%. In terms of foliage transparency, 98.9% of the hardwood sample trees in New England had foliage transparency of 30% or less. For the Mid-Atlantic states, 92.5% had foliage transparency of 30% or less. Also, 95.8 and 98.1% of the hardwood sample trees had crown dieback of 20% or less in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions, respectively.