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Title: Forest stand dynamics and sudden oak death: Mortality in mixed-evergreen forests dominated by coast live oak

Author: Brown, L.B.; Allen-Diaz, B.;

Date: 2009

Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 257(4): 1271-1280

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Sudden oak death (SOD), caused by the recently discovered non-native invasive pathogen, Phytophthora ramorum, has already killed tens of thousands of native coast live oak and tanoak trees in California. Little is known of potential short and long term impacts of this novel plant–pathogen interaction on forest structure and composition. Coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) and bay laurel (Umbellularia californica) form mixed-evergreen forests along the northern California coast. This study measured tree mortality over a gradient of disease in three time periods. Direct measurements of current mortality were taken during 2004, representing a point-in-time estimate of present and ongoing mortality. Past stand conditions, c. 1994, were estimated using a stand reconstruction technique. Future stand conditions, c. 2014, were calculated by assuming that, given a lack of host resistance, live trees showing signs of the disease in 2004 would die. Results indicate that coast live oaks died at a rate of 4.4–5.5% year−1 between 1994 and 2004 in highly impacted sites, compared with a background rate of 0.49% year−1, a ten-fold increase in mortality. From 2004 to 2014, mortality rates in the same sites were 0.8–2.6% year−1. Over the entire period, in highly impacted sites, a 59–70% loss of coast live oak basal area was predicted, and coast live oak decreased from 60% to 40% of total stand basal area, while bay laurel increased from 22% to 37%. Future stand structures will likely have greater proportions of bay laurel relative to coast live oak.

Keywords: Phytophthora ramorum, Quercus agrifolia, Oak mortality, Stand reconstruction, Forest response, Forest disease, Invasive

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Brown, L.B.; Allen-Diaz, B. 2009. Forest stand dynamics and sudden oak death: Mortality in mixed-evergreen forests dominated by coast live oak. Forest Ecology and Management. 257(4): 1271-1280.

 


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