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Research underway in County Forest to prevent spread of invasive fungus

Posted on Thursday July 12, 2018

Cobourg, ON – July 12, 2018 – The Northumberland County Forest is one of three locations to be selected by the Ministry of Natural Resources and For­estry this summer to assist with sampling of Nitidulid beetles—otherwise known as sap beetles—in an effort to fight an invasive fungus that causes ‘Oak Wilt Disease’. This vascular disease affecting oak trees is currently prev­alent in the United States but has not yet impacted Canadian forests. Re­search activities will provide important insight to the Ministry about the interac­tion between sap beetles and oak trees to help with the development of pre­cautionary management guidelines for Oak Wilt in Canada.

“While this study is preventive in nature, it is important that we analyze any potential threat to our environment,” states County Forest Manager Todd
Farrell. “We were eager to contribute to this innovative research, which has
the potential to positively impact the health of forests across Ontario.”

Oak Wilt is often spread by sap beetles transferring the Oak Wilt fungus from infected trees to healthy oak trees, causing substantial damage to forests. Since April, County staff have been maintaining and monitoring three wind-oriented traps and three tree wound traps in the County Forest, from which they will collect samples of the beetle until the end of August. The samples from these traps will provide the Ministry with key information about which beetle species are most common in certain areas of Ontario, which species visit fresh oak wounds, the life cycle of the beetles and their potential to trans­fer the disease. Sampling is also being conducted in Essex Region and Sault Ste. Marie.

“This collaboration between the County Forest and the Ministry of Natural
Resources and Forestry speaks to the mission of Northumberland County as a whole,” states County CAO Jennifer Moore. “We aim to be a best practices leader in all of our endeavors, and this is especially relevant with respect to protecting and preserving the diverse and thriving ecosystems that make the Northumberland County Forest so unique.”

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