Woodpeckers Hungry for EAB

Photo courtesy James R. Holland, Bugwood.org        

Citizen scientists in Detroit, MI have contributed expansive data to help tackle ecological problems. Volunteers of the local organization ‘FeederWatch’ have collected more than 4.2 million hours worth of data since 1987. Their recent research focuses on analyzing the impact of Emerald Ash Borer. Since the discovery of these invasive pests in 2002, they have been devastating ash trees throughout the US. However, there are four populations that have begun adapting to this pest’s presence.

Although North American ash trees have no defense against these invasive pests, forest residents have stepped up to the plate. According to data provided by Feederwatchers in conjunction with the USFS, there has been a change in the distribution and abundance of local bird populations. Three species of woodpeckers have developed a taste for EAB. It appears that this pest is edible for these flying forest dwellers.

Increased populations (from 2002 to 2011) of the Downy, Hairy and Red-Bellied woodpeckers have begun fighting this biological invasion directly at the source. We applaud the appetite of these birds and hope the wrath of invasive pests can be mitigated.

We look forward to seeing the strides of local and federal organizations as they continue research to improve preparedness, recovery, and research on insect resistant forests.



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