Forestry Sudden Oak Death Term Paper

Pages: 10 (2903 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Disease

Forestry-Sudden Oak Death

Analysis and review of two articles on sudden oak death

The article entitled, Sudden oak death: endangering California and Oregon forest ecosystems by David M. Rizzo and Matteo Garbelotto provides a clear and comprehensive overview and assessment of the serious problem of sudden oak death.The article is also cautious, not only in its determination of the extent and the nature of this problem in terms of ecological and related factors, but also in its balanced assessment of the range of the problem and the types of remedial actions that can be taken the article also analyses in detail the functioning and range of Phytophthora ramorum pathogen in relation to concomitant environmental, ecological and site criteria.

The Problem

There are a number of central problem areas that are noted and discussed in this paper. The first is the devastating effectiveness of the pathogen. This disease has reached epic proportions in areas such as central California and has led to the death of thousands of healthy trees. The article also clearly outlines one of the central issues and problem areas surrounding this pathogen; namely that, "Our limited knowledge only compounds our concern over the long-term implications of this epidemic for the ecology of coastal forests." 1

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The article also emphasizes the central concern that the damage that this pathogen causes is intimately linked to the delicate and complex ecological balance in the areas concerned. This in turn relates to the fact that the pathogen also affects other biological entities. In essence one of the central problems is that it has a broad host range and that it also affects "...almost all wood plant species in coastal forests." 1

Term Paper on Forestry Sudden Oak Death Assignment

This aspect has serious implications for the understanding and treatment of the disease, as well as for the range and complexity of its impact on the trees and general ecology. This in turn is also related to the problem of the secondary impact of the disease on other organisms such as insects, which play a vital role in the maintenance of ecological balance.

3. Findings

Possibly one of the most significant findings in this overarching view of the disease is the way that the pathogen infects and uses other hosts in the forest area. This aspect has already been briefly alluded to above and should be seen in the wider context of the general ecology of the region. The research findings also indicate that this aspect is exacerbated by the potential for genetic variability and the possibility that evolutionary factors may lead to a more devastating strain of the pathogen.

Another finding that is of especial concern is the extent and the range of the damage caused by the pathogen. This also applies to the general ecosystem as well as to the trees. As the author's state, since the pathogen was introduced in the 1920s, "...P cinnamomi has virtually eliminated most tree species over hundreds of thousands of hectares of the jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forests of western Australia, converting them to grassland or shrubland." 1 This is in addition to the damage caused to more than 300 km of the central California coast.1

The authors also provide an extensive overview of the history of this pathogen and the damage that it has caused to various ecosystems as well as the emergence of "sudden oak death." Coupled with these facts is the aforementioned finding that, "...P ramorum could infect other plant species as well. Over the past year and a half, over 20 additional species from 12 plant families have been identified as potential hosts." 2 These findings have led to the discovery of a number of opportunistic organisms which are often found on infected oak and tanoak trees, such as ambrosia beetles (Monarthrum scutellare and Monarthrum dentiger) and bark beetles (Pseudopityophthorus pubipennis. 2 a finding of this nature is important as the presence of these opportunistic organisms can increase the number of tree deaths. 2 However as the authors point out, more research on this important aspect is needed as, "The progression of the disease and the extent of damage to most non-oak hosts are not well characterized yet." 3

Interestingly, in term of the worldwide spread of this pathogen, it was found in various plants in nurseries in Germany and the Netherlands, as well as in UK, Spain, Poland, France, Sweden, and Belgium. 3

However, no infections of plants were found in these countries and there have been no reports of mortalities due to the pathogen in Europe.

4. Solutions

The findings indicated generally that any solutions to this problem have to take into account a number of important variables. One of these is the fact of human involvement in the ecology. The authors of this article state that, "Humans have been altering much of the forestland currently affected by the pathogen for many years already..." 4

This includes aspects such as manmade fires and the introduction of plants and insects to the areas; as well as commercial activities such as logging, which have all altered the nature and balance of the ecology.

Therefore, it follows that any realistic solutions must take these factors into account. To this end there are ground and aerial surveys underway at present which will provide further essential information about the impact of the disease over a wide area. Furthermore, task forces have been established in California and Oregon in conjunction with various agencies to find the most appropriate ways of dealing with the disease. Besides management projects there are also chemical solutions that are in the process of being tested. Another important action that is being undertaken is the prevention of the potentially infected plant material being transferred between the United States and other countries; which could lead to genetic variability.

5. Conclusion.

In conclusion this article presents a comparatively comprehensive and instructive overview of the disease. The analysis of the problems and the subsequent findings also provide useful pointers to possible solutions. A number of important conclusions should be noted. One is that the pathogen displays a variability of symptoms depending on the host and that it can cause a wide range of landscape changes. The fact that there are a variety of hosts for this pathogen has a decided effect on restoration efforts. This is also linked to the fact that severity of the pathogen is increased by Foliar infections of non-oak hosts by serving as a source of inoculum. The article places emphasis on the way that environmental conditions and climate also play a role in the spread and severity of sudden oak death

1. Introduction

The article entitled, Effects of landscape heterogeneity on the emerging forest disease sudden oak death by Condeso et al. is focused on a specific aspect of the problem of the spread of the pathogen P. ramorum and sudden oak death; namely the effect of landscape structure as it relates to the disease. This approach involved two central questions asked by the authors. The first was to ascertain whether the spatial pattern of forested habitat predict P. ramorum disease severity; and whether this relationship between spatial patterns and spread in dependent on scale. The second question explored the influence of spatial pattern on the optimal microclimate conditions for P. ramorum reproduction.

The methodology used to explore this problem was centered on the measurement of disease severity in each plot in relation to the surrounding landscape. The article is particularly concerned with the importance of landscape patterns in terms of the disease. As the authors point out, this is an aspect that has largely been ignored as a central factor in the establishment and spread of the disease. They state that, "The spatial arrangement and composition of host vegetation may play a crucial role in mediating spread of invasive organisms in general and infectious forest diseases in particular." 5

2. The problem

On a more general level this article is in essence a study of a very important issue that affects many modern diseases. This refers to the central problem of the way that human movement and expansion in the world affects the number and extent of emerging and remerging infectious diseases. 5

An important point made at the beginning of this study is that; "The decline of biodiversity due to emerging pathogens of wildlife and plants may soon rival that due to habitat loss." 5 Another central problem that is emphasized is that emerging diseases of plants are typically "...often introduced through the commercial trade of exotic plant products." 5

The study also notes that there are an increasing number of reports of the introduction of plant disease, which is a trend that is set to increase with the increase in global trade.

The research in the article therefore focuses on a cardinal aspect of this spread of plant pathogenesis in its emphasis on landscape patterns or the configuration and composition of suitable habitat, and how these aspects affect the establishment and spread of the disease. 6

The focus on landscape patterns as an important aspect… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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