Call for Beech Leaf & Soil Samples

by | Environment

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Update  3/01/24

No longer accepting samples. Instead, please report images of both infected AND healthy beech trees using iNaturalist. These reports help scientists determine the timeline and path of spread, helping them discover any potential beech tree populations that are resistant to infection.

As a part of The Nematode Project, I am looking for samples. There is only so much ground one person can cover, and many specimens are on private property which I either don’t have the contacts to request permission for, or the process takes a long time.

If you have beech trees on your property, however, there is a direct way you can help with this project: sending SAMPLES!

I am looking for samples of both healthy and infected populations of beech trees, or any other plants that show signs of Beech Leaf Disease infection.

Please note that these samples must be on your own property. I cannot accept samples that have been acquired from state or national parks, conservation land, or native land without the proper permits.

Infected beech leaves can be identified primarily in summer and fall when the leaves are large and the nematodes have grown into the individual sections. You can often determine whether a population is infected by looking up so that the sunlight highlights the leaves a brilliant green.

Normally, healthy beech leaves are vibrant green throughout. Leaves with beech leaf disease, however, will have bands or sections of dark green on individual leaf sections. These signal the presence of the nematodes.

The images above showcase a population of infected beech leaves.

I am also looking for soil and bud samples matching the populations leaves are taken from. In other words – if you take a sample of leaves on your property, it would be wonderful if you could include a soil and bud sample as well. Samples can be taken at any time of year.

While Litylenchus nematodes are believed to live their entire life cycle in the leaf itself, we know relatively little about them right now. Having both a soil and leaf sample could help us determine factors that affect spread and resistance.

To submit a sample, please fill out the form below. Once I receive your submission, I will be in touch with details about shipping using the email you provide (so please check your inbox and spam folder!)

 

How to Take Leaf Samples

Choose a leaf that does not seem to have any insects or pupae on the underside. (If it does, do not remove the leaf or disturb the wildlife.)

Pick 3-4 leaves from the same tree and place them in a plastic or mylar bag, or clean and dry sealable container. If sampling from multiple trees, please use a separate container for each tree.

Label with your name or email (to match with the submission form for more details on the specimen.)

If you are collecting from multiple trees and plan to send all at once, please label the container with a helpful identifier (it can be arbritrary, such as A2, or LEAF 1) to match the leaf sample with the soil sample, if applicable.

How to Take Soil Samples

First clear the top layer of debris such as leaf litter or nuts from the ground, if applicable.

Using a small trowel or a soil core sampler, dig into the soil at two or three spots around the tree. It does not need to have more than a handful of dirt per sample, but try to pull an even amount all the way down, about 5-6 inches into the soil.

Place the dirt in a plastic or mylar bag, or a clean and dry sealable container. If sampling from multiple trees, please use a separate container for each.

Label with your name or email (to match with the submission form for more details on the specimen)

If you are collecting from multiple trees and plan to send all at once, please label the container with a helpful identifier (it can be arbitrary, such as A2, or SOIL 1) to match the soil sample with the leaf sample.

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About Destynnie K. Berard
I am a lifelong naturalist who believes a good sense of humor is essential to staying happy. ★ After traveling for years, I settled in New England, falling in love with the diverse landscape the Northeast has to offer, and began pursuing conservation in earnest. ★ My career background is in enterprise marketing and communications, which provides me with a unique perspective of ecological relationships.

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