The near-loss of dominant Acadian Forest tree species is inconceivably detrimental to wildlife and unique habitats, and even the most ambitious in situ (on location) conservation efforts may not protect these ecosystems. Our herbarium director, Alain Belliveau, and herbarium coordinator, Sarah Adams, are involved in a project to bring seeds and genetics from Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), and Ashes (Fraxinus americana & nigra) into long term storage. This work fits into the Acadia Seed Bank’s mission to preserve all native plant species in the Acadian Forest Region.
Hemlock and Ash tree species are ecological pillars of the Acadian Forest Region and are facing significant devastation from invasive alien species. Storing seeds in seed banks is an important, globally recognized conservation method and also assists with research efforts toward potential restoration projects.
The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA, Adelgestsugae) is destroying Hemlock in southern Nova Scotia, and the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB, Agrilusplanipennis) has destroyed millions of Ash trees across North America and was recently detected in this province. Both species were accidentally introduced to North America from Asia.
To complete this project, partnerships were developed with key organizations including the National Tree Seed Centre and the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq. Between partners, and using GIS data, sites were selected for seed collection. A portion of the highest potential sites were investigated for seed production in mid-summer, and a subset of these sites were later visited to collect seeds in the fall. Collected seeds were cleaned and stored according to seed banking protocols.
From a total of ten sites, a minimum of 120 liters of seeds were collected – 80 or more of White Ash seeds, and 40 or more of Hemlock seeds. For White Ash, this represents approximately 168,000 seeds, and for Hemlock, a minimum of 40,568 seeds. The Acadia Seed Bank also assisted the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq with Black Ash seed collection efforts for other restoration projects. Special thank you to the Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund for helping to support this project.
About the Acadia Seed Bank
The Acadia Seed Bank’s mission is to preserve seeds and germplasm of native plant species in the Acadian Forest Region. It is embedded within the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre at Acadia University, and part of the Irving Biodiversity Collections along with the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens and the E.C. Smith Herbarium.