Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. K. Greg Murray

Document Type


Event Date



Size distributions of trees often yield valuable clues about changing environmental conditions and the responses of populations to them. In a recent study, the size distribution of Eastern Hemlocks was measured in several forests near Lake Michigan to determine whether active recruitment into the population was taking place at a similar rate as in the past. The diameter at breast height as well as cores samples were taken for all hemlocks present in selected stands. Analysis found that the size distribution was strongly skewed toward the intermediate and larger tree size classes suggesting a failure of recent recruitment relative to that in the past. Experimental transplantation of hemlock saplings in select stands has yielded a possible link with herbivory due to the gradual increase of white tail deer populations as the primary cause of decline among hemlocks. Other studies in the Lake Michigan region, both inland and coastal, have documented a perceived decline in hemlock populations based on sample data and paleoecological trends. If the observed trend continues into the future, Eastern Hemlock will most likely continue to decline in density in these forests over the long term.