Trembling Aspen

Trembling Aspen grove Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CA
Trembling Aspen grove [in 2016] Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CA

It was the summer of 2017, did you see it?

The Populus tremuloides (Trembling Aspen or Quaking Aspen) groves were struggling, and suffering tremendously. The defoliation caused by the Tent Caterpillar Malacosoma disstria was so severe, that combined with the severe drought, the vigour and vitality of the Aspen Trees was greatly reduced.  2017 saw the fourth year of the Tent Caterpillar infestation in Saskatoon. When healthy trees that are completely stripped of their leaves are able to refoliate their leaves after the caterpillars have feasted, however the second growth is smaller and, indeed, may be inadequate to compensate for the damage caused. The attack of the caterpillars may even kill the top of the tree, side branches and even the whole tree may expire with multi-years of excessive defoliation.

 

James J. Worrall et al, explains that drought, tent caterpillars and other factors contribute to the decline of Trembling Aspens. Severe drought precipitates the most drastic decline, followed by foliage stripped by tent caterpillars  year after year. Aspen stands cannot recover from such shocks to the system on a multiyear basis, without relief.

 

“It’s almost as if nature has forgotten how to rain in parts of Saskatchewan,[9]” said David Phillips, senior Climatologist with Environment Canada, who goes on to explain that, “It really does show you the kind of climate you have: a desert — dry, semi-arid, almost like Pheonix, Ariz. — where the days can be very hot, and in this case bone dry and not a cloud in the sky. All that heat from the day radiates into space … It left the nights relatively cool.[2]” Saskatoon received only 243.6 millimetres [9.6 inches] of precipitation, bringing 2017 into the top five driest years for the city.

Not only was 2017 setting records for the driest years in history books, the problem for the Trembling Aspen was compounded as being the worst for the Tent Caterpillar plague. “We’re in a boom period for the tent caterpillar,” [10] ” said Tyler Wist, Field crop entomologist for Agriculture and AgriFood Canada. The tent caterpillar has a natural predator in birds, as well as the eggs of the sarcophagid fly.

 Effects on overall health of aspen.  Repeated defoliation by forest tent caterpillar may not allow trees to recover to a normal state of health, which can lead to decline.  ~ Natural Resources Canada

Trembling Aspen grove Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CA
Trembling Aspen grove [in 2016]  Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CA

Following two or more years of severe feeding there is a general decline in tree health, including twig and branch dieback. After three or four consecutive years of being stripped of their leaves trees can be weakened and may be more susceptible to insects, such as wood borers, and stem disease. Following forest tent caterpillar infestations the incidence of hypoxylon canker, a fungal stem disease, may increase and cause extensive damage in aspen forests.  “~ Forestry Branch

Late spring frosts kill buds leading to early, mass larval stravation. Alberta Government.

“When populations are low, the egg masses on small plants can be removed by hand and destroyed between July and the following spring. Hand picking can inflict significant larval mortality.
Destruction of occupied tents by hand or with a brush leads to colony collapse. Pruning to remove egg masses, tents, or groups of larvae must be done sparingly to avoid injuring the plant. Using fire to accomplish this is not recommended as it damages the plant more than the defoliation.”~Forest Health Protection
 The trembling aspen is known to grow as a clonal colony in which the stems [trunks] arise from one huge conjoined root system.  Whereas the tree stems of the Trembling Aspen may be determined by its tree rings, the roots may be much older than that of the tree trunks.  In the semi-arid regions of the west, Trembling Aspen are more likely to establish new trees via suckering from an established root system rather than from seed.  It is intriguing to learn that the Aspen Tree is really only a small fraction of a much larger organism.  Malcolm F. Squires reports that clones of Aspens may have sprouted following the Pleistocene era after the retreat of the great ice age, creating the oldest organisms in the world.  One can tell one Aspen clone growth from another, as leaves will emerge in the spring and turn to yellow in the fall in the same clone, and a neighbouring clone will exhibit a different time scale.
If a clone of Aspen trees from the same root is even aged, and has thrived in near to full sunlight, is severely attacked and stripped of its leaves by tent caterpillars causing some of the Aspen trees to die back.  The Aspen roots, in some cases, if the soil is healthy, be able to regenerate from suckers.  Young saplings will rise from the roots in the openings, or these young trees may take advantage of thin crowns.  The Aspen stand will show this uneven age structure, until the remaining tree trunks die off, and all the tree stems become even aged.
“Jack Schultz, a Pennsylvania State University entomologist… discovered that aspens react chemically to insect attack.  Soon after the caterpillar start chewing, the trees’ remaining leaves produce bitter-tasting phenol compounds to discourage further eating” [5]
 In 2017, it was seen that the Trembling Aspen stands lost their leaves, and a second smaller growth was seen coming late in the summer season.  Watch if and how the Aspen stand recovers in 2018.  It will be also interesting to note if 2018 again succumbs to a double whammy of drought and tent caterpillar.  Saskatchewan is a province of cyclical weather alternating between drought and years with a high water table [perhaps even flooding].   The tent caterpillars well, their cycle lasts between three to seven years, and they normally re-occur in 15-20 year intervals.
The round leaves turning golden in the autumn months, quivering, and catching the light as the breeze tosses the golden discs this way and that, give the Trembling Aspen the appearance of being a “Money Tree” as its branches dance in gold.
Silviculture is the practice of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests to meet diverse needs and values. The name comes from the Latin silvi- (forest) + culture (as in growing).  Richard St. Barbe Baker attended Cambridge University, graduating as a silviculturist.
Enroll your body, soul and spirit and engage your time to do what you know best. Dedicate yourself to the work at hand and you will be rewarded by the fruits you will bear!”― Israelmore Ayivor, The Great Hand Book of Quotes

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Allen Bonnie.
‘The damage is done’: Home electricity boxes igniting in Sask. drought
Regina’s driest July in 130 years also threatening livestock, crops and farmers’ livelihoods”
CBC News Aug 04, 2017

2 Climenhaga, Christy. Regina experiences driest July in 130 years. July topped the charts for hot and dry weather in southern Saskatchewan CBC News Aug 01, 2017

3. Climenhaga, Christy. 2017 driest year on record for some Sask. communities
Driest year ever for Assiniboia, Moose Jaw; Regina saw 2nd-driest year, with only 40% of normal precipitation
CBC News. January 6, 2018.

4. Climenhaga, Christy. Regina and Swift Current could see their driest July on record
Southern Saskatchewan still waiting for rain after bone-dry July
CBC News July 27, 2017.

5. Fergus, Charles.  Trees of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Edition illustrated Publisher Stackpole Books, 2002 ISBN 0811720926, 9780811720922

5. Giles, David. Forest tent caterpillars invade Saskatoon Global News. May 24, 2017

6. Graham, Jennifer. Dry weather withering crops, stressing farmers in southern Saskatchewan The Canadian Press August 6, 2017

7. Graham, Jennifer. This Saskatchewan farm’s ground is so dry a wrench ‘would disappear’ in its cracks Environment Canada figures show Regina had only 1.8 millimetres of rain last month — the driest July in 130 years. The Canadian Press. August 6, 2017

8. Its more than rare.” Environment Canada says southern Saskatchewan’s dry July will break records 620 CKRM Juy 27, 2017.

9. Knox, Shawn. Dundurn, Sask. woman tired of tent caterpillar infestation Global News. June 1, 2017.

10. Lizee, Tiffany. Southern Saskatchewan in drought for almost a year Global News. October 14, 2017

11. Martell, Creeden. ‘They just keep coming’: Tent caterpillar invasion coats Sask. home in insects — and feces  Saskatchewan in a boom period for tent caterpillars CBC News May 31, 2017

12. Petrow, Erin.  Caterpillars thrive for the fourth consecutive year Saskatoon Star Phoenix. May 24, 2017.

13. Prestwich, Emma Caterpillars Cover Saskatchewan Woman’s Property And It’s Super Disgusting Huffpost Canada.

14. Squires, Malcolm F.  Dynamic Forest: Man Versus Nature in the Boreal Forest
Volume 7 of Point of View Contributor John Kennedy Naysmith
Edition illustrated Publisher Dundurn, 2017 ISBN 1459739345, 9781459739345

15. Tent caterpillars: Tips to help control the outbreak Specialist says outbreaks happen every 10 to 15 years and last up to six years CBC News May 31, 2016

16. Tu, Chau Earth’s biggest living thing might be a tree with thousands of clones Science Friday.  May 5, 2015

17. Worrall, James J., Gerald E. Rehfeldt, Andreas Hamann, Edward H. Hogg, Suzanne B. Marchetti, Michael Michealian, and Laura K. Gray. Recent declines of Populus tremuloides in North America linked to climate Volume 299, Issue , July 2013, Pages 35-51

 

For more information:
Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Addresses:
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”. Please and thank you!
Twitter: StBarbeBaker
Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition or make a donation to SOS Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

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Paragon of the Beholder

“I love to see, when leaves depart,
The clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
That kills all forms of life and feeling.
Save what is pure and will survive.”

Roy Campbell

And yet, now the leaves are coming back. The leaf roller and the tent caterpillar have gorged, the feast has ended with the last leaf. It is now the era for the trees to once again send out their leaves and green again.
It has been a better year for some insects. Still the bees are not hovering as much as yore. The butterflies have made a small comeback. Will the abundance of tent caterpillar and leaf roller be a sign of times to come, and hope that all insects may thrive again?

What a piece of work is a man,
how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties,
in form and moving how express and admirable,
in action how like an angel,
in apprehension how like a god!
the beauty of the world,
the paragon of animals.
~William Shakespeare

And would you agree with Hamlet, is man the paragon of animals? The ornithologist may pass his life in one place, but he can never say “I have finished” and though they have traveled nought, they know the morrow may bring some new bird or new fact. The astute observation, ahd attention to detail this association with the birds adds to the joy of life! How is spring set apart from autumn, what new meanings comings and goings of the waterfowl, the songbirds, raptors and all give to the changing seasons; the very air is made eloquent by their calls and songs. Why should we not all be gladdened and “come at these enchantments”?” It is impossible for us not to love whatever is lovely, and of all living things birds were made most beautiful ~ says the bird watcher.
And yet~ recent researches and news stories have emphasized the practical importance to human society of entomological study, and insects will always be a source of delight to the lover of nature. Among the manifold operations of the myriad of living creatures few have more strongly impressed the casual observer or more deeply interested the thoughtful entymologist than the transformations of insects. Everyone is familiar with and can ramble on at length the main facts of such a life-story as that of a moth or butterfly.
And now~ have ever when out in nature, have you become aware of another, one who is taking time to behold mankind. When you are out truly there is a pace, and nearer to wildlife, they do not let others draw across that distance, yet, although their curiosity about humans was great. Have you been out, and seen that from the way they go circling round, stretching their necks to get a good view, and one might only feel and perhaps come to the conclusion that mankind perchance was of a different species of animal from those with which they were familiar.
The seasons come and go. Summer turns to fall. “What a piece of work is a ____________, the paragon of animals.” Is it truly that man is the paragon of animals? What do you say?  Is it truly in the eyes of the beholder?  Or is it what they focus upon? Or what they can see?

Will the entymolgist spy the metamorphic rock of the geologist?  Can the ornithologist spy the butterfly cocoon of the entymologist?  Will the artist behold the scene with the same eyes as the surveyor?  The seasons come and go.  Winter turns to spring.  Does the paragon of animals ever change?  “What a piece of work is a ____________, the paragon of animals.”

Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude. Louie Schwartzberg Mwanner

For more information:

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
Twitter: St Barbe Baker

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

We feel that our greatest victory remains to be won when man will realize his oneness with the trees, the creatures and with all living things, not ours to destroy, but to be handed on for the enjoyment of future generations. – Richard St. Barbe Baker.