Research in the Rizzo lab focuses on the ecology and management of exotic and native forest tree diseases, primarily in California ecosystems. Research in our lab takes a multiscale approach, with projects ranging from experimental studies of basic organism biology to landscape-scale field surveys. Many projects in the lab include active collaborations with molecular biologists, landscape ecologists, epidemiologists, entomologists, and forest managers.
Much of the research in our lab focuses on aerial Phytophthora species in California coastal forests, with an emphasis on Phytophthora ramorum, the causal agent of Sudden Oak Death (SOD).
Tanoak mortality due to SOD
In California, millions of trees have died due to P. ramorum
infection since the introduction of this pathogen in the mid-1990s. Our study sites span the range of P. ramorum
infestation in California, from Big Sur
to the Oregon border, and include long-term monitoring plots
that encompass a diversity of forest types, including: redwood-tanoak, Douglas-fir-tanoak, coast live oak, and mixed oak woodlands. Across this range, we are studying the ecology of the pathogen and monitoring the establishment, spread and ecological impacts of SOD.
Root disease mortality center in Yosemite Valley
Additional research projects in our lab focus on the role of native and exotic pathogens in conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada and other interior mountain ranges of Northern California. These projects examine a variety of diseases and their relationship to past and present forest management and conservation issues. White pine blister rust
is an exotic pathogen that threatens white pine diversity in mixed-conifer and subalpine forests. Our research team is taking an ecological and genetic approach to better understand the interactions of disease pressure, environment, and evolutionary processes on the population dynamics of white pine species in California. In the mixed-conifer forests of Yosemite Valley and the Teakettle Experimental Forest in the southern Sierra Nevada, we have projects examining the influence of multiple pathogens and insects on forest structure and development in the context of various land management practices, including fire, thinning, and multiple land-use practices.