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Title: The effects of sudden oak death on foliar moisture content and crown fire potential in tanoak

Author: Kuljian, H.; Varner, J.M.;

Date: 2010

Source: Forest Ecology and Management 259 : 2103-2110

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The introduction of non-native pathogens can have profound effects on forest ecosystems resulting in loss of species, changes in species composition, and altered fuel structure. The introduction of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen recognized as causing Sudden Oak Death (SOD), leads to rapid decline and mortality of tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) in forests of coastal California, USA. We tracked foliar moisture content (FMC) of uninfected tanoaks, SOD-infected tanoaks, SOD-killed (dead) tanoaks, and surface litter for 12 months. We found that FMC values differed significantly among the three categories of infection. FMC of uninfected tanoaks averaged 82.3% for the year whereas FMC of infected tanoaks had a lower average of 77.8% (ANOVA, P = 0.04). Dead trees had a significantly lower FMC, averaging 12.3% (ANOVA, P < 0.01) for the year. During fire season (June–September), dead tanoak FMC reached a low of 5.8%, with no significant difference between dead canopy fuels and surface litter (ANOVA, P = 0.44). Application of low FMC values to a crown ignition model results in extremely high canopy base height values to escape crown ignition. Remote estimation of dead FMC using 10-h timelag fuel moisture shows a strong correlation between remote automated weather station (RAWS) 10-h timelag fuel moisture data and the FMC of dead leaves (R2 = 0.78, P < 0.01). Results from this study will help refine the decision support tools for fire managers in SOD-affected areas as well as conditions in other forests where diseases and insect epidemics have altered forest canopy fuels.

Keywords: Canopy fuel, Crown fire, Lithocarpus densiflorus, Non-native pathogens, Phytophthora ramorum

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Kuljian, H.; Varner, J.M. 2010. The effects of sudden oak death on foliar moisture content and crown fire potential in tanoak. Forest Ecology and Management 259 : 2103-2110.


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