Date of Award

Winter 4-19-2023

Thesis Access

Open Access Honors Thesis

Thesis Location

Honors College Thesis

Degree Name



Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Daniel Kashian


The detrimental impact of invasive species on native biota is a source for many studies spanning all kinds of biological systems. The introduction of emerald ash borer in southeastern Michigan in the early 2000's has decimated the region’s mature black ash tree population, but its regeneration, both asexual (sprouts) and sexual (seedlings) still occurs. The arrangement and features of the wetlands’ land surfaces may play a role in black ash establishment. Black ash is generally found on wet-mesic to wet soils, but rising water table levels due to climate change and overstory tree mortality in on these sites may inundate microsites where germination is able to occur, thereby reducing the area available for black ash regeneration. Thus, quantifying the microtopography of wetland sites where black ash has successfully established is critical to understanding black ash persistence in the presence of emerald ash borer. This project characterized the microtopography of selected forested wetlands in southeastern Michigan using handheld LiDAR technology to examine the spatial correlation of black ash seedings and saplings with small changes in elevation. Three-dimensional pointclouds of eight plots with high black ash abundance at sites in southeastern Michigan were analyzed. Estimating land area above a threshold elevation highlight sites that support black ash regeneration; at sites where flooding remains minimal, black ash survival may increase due to microsite availability.