Sudden Oak Death-Induced Tanoak Mortality in Coast Redwood Forests: Current and Predicted Impacts to Stand Structure

Ramage, Benjamin S.; O'Hara, Kevin L.
September 2010
Forests (19994907);Sep2010, Vol. 1 Issue 3, p114
Academic Journal
Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus syn. Lithocarpus densiflorus) is one of the most widespread and abundant associates of coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), but little is known about the structural relationships between these two species. Knowledge of such relationships is essential for a thorough understanding of the impacts of sudden oak death (caused by the exotic pathogen Phytophthora ramorum), which is currently decimating tanoak populations throughout the redwood range. In this study, we utilized a stratified plot design and a stand reconstruction technique to assess structural impacts, at present and in the future, of this emerging disease. We found that residual trees in diseased plots were more aggregated than trees in unaffected plots, and we predicted that the loss of tanoak will lead to the following short-term changes: greater average diameter, height, height-to-live-crown, and crown length, as well as an increase in average nearest neighbor differences for diameter, height, and crown length. In addition, plots lacking tanoak (living or dead)-as compared to plots with tanoak-exhibited greater average diameter and increased nearest neighbor differences with regard to diameter, height, and crown length. We also conducted a preliminary exploration of how sudden oak death-induced structural changes compare with typical old-growth characteristics, and how this disease may affect the structure of old-growth forests.


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