Title: Monitoring the Impacts of Laurel Wilt Disease on a Rare Redbay Population at Cannon's Point Preserve
Presenters: Cameron C. Atkinson, Alisa J. Iketani, Kristin E. Ruff, and Kaitlin I. Spivey
Abstract: Throughout the southeastern United States, laurel wilt disease has decimated populations of redbay (Persa borbonia). This disease is catalyzed by the invasive redbay ambrosia beetle (RAB; Xyleborus glabratus), which burrows into host trees and introduces a symbiotic fungus that proves deadly. In collaboration with the St. Simons Land Trust and Georgia Department of Natural Resources, BIOL 4020 Conservation Biology students monitored a rare redbay population at Cannon’s Point Preserve (CPP), St. Simons Island, GA. Compared to previous years, only one new case of laurel wilt was documented in 2019, bringing the total count to 23% of monitored trees that have been infected since 2016. Continued monitoring, genetic resistance studies, and management of the invasive RAB are needed to protect this rare redbay population at CPP.