- Author: Katharine Palmieri
- Editor: Sophie Kolding
The 5th Sudden Oak Death Science Symposium, held in Petaluma, CA June 19 – 22, 2012, brought together researchers, regulators, land managers, and industry representatives from throughout the world working on Sudden Oak Death (SOD), Phytophthora ramorum (the pathogen known to cause SOD), and other related forest and nursery pests. The Symposium included 52 talks and 25 posters from top researchers around the globe as well as a “SOD: Biosecurity Concerns and Forest Restoration” field trip, where attendees heard about international plant hunters and biosecurity risks related to plant hunting and walked through a local preserve, learning about long-term system changes and restoration efforts following SOD outbreaks. There was also a community “Ask the Expert” evening session where the public was able to talk one on one with researchers and outreach specialists, and a special tanoak session was offered on Friday, focusing on the history, values, and ecology of tanoak.
Highlight findings from the meeting included the discovery of a 4th P. ramorum lineage, the announcement that pathogen sporulation has been found on non-symptomatic Japanese larch needles, and learning that 85 percent of the Marin Municipal Water District’s susceptible habitat is now infested.
If you missed the Symposium, be sure to visit the website (http://ucanr.org/sites/sod5/) where you can access the agenda, book of abstracts, and link to the archived live stream that was made available throughout the meeting for those unable to attend.
- Editor: Sophie Kolding
- Author: Brice McPherson
The Sudden Oak Death (SOD) epidemic in East Bay Park District forests dominated by coast live oaks, Quercus agrifolia, and bay laurels, Umbellularia californica, presents major management challenges. Coast live oaks play a disproportionately large role in these forest ecosystems even when they are not the dominant overstory tree species. There are no other tree species in these forests that support as many other organisms (insects, bird, mammals, and fungi) as well as produce high quality protein in the form of acorns. In addition to problems faced by other forests at the urban-wildland interface, such as invasive plants and degraded habitats, managers of these lands must now contend with the effects of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes SOD.
Figure 1. In coast live oaks, sudden oak death exhibits a predictable, progressive sequence of symptoms.
Phytophthora ramorum is a water mold apparently introduced through the nursery trade from Asia. This organism, unknown prior to 2000, infects a remarkably large number of native plant species, causing different diseases in different species (Rizzo and Garbelotto, 2003). Typically these infections take the form of leaf or stem lesions and are not fatal. However, most oaks native to California that are in the red oak group (section Lobatae), which includes coast live oaks, are highly susceptible to the pathogen. Infection in oaks follows a consistent sequence: 1) a viscous exudate, referred to as bleeding, appears on the bark, typically no higher than about 1.5-m above the soil; 2) both ambrosia and bark beetles tunnel into these infected patches (often 10-15 cm deep into the sapwood); 3) fruiting bodies of fungi appear on the bark above the beetle tunnels; and 4) tree death follows (Figure 1). Because of beetle and fungus damage, up to 25% of infected coast live oaks may fail while still alive, typically snapping within 2-4 feet above the soil (McPherson et al., 2010). In the course of maintaining long-term study plots in Marin County, we have identified critical parameters for understanding the response of coast live oaks to infection by P. ramorum (McPherson et al., 2010) (Table 1).
Table 1. Survival estimates (years + standard error) for coast live oaks infected by P. ramorum in two Marin County forests, 2000-2008, based on Weibull survival models (McPherson et al., 2010). CCSP: China Camp State Park; MMWD: Marin Municipal Water District.
Median survival, CCSP
Median survival, MMWD
Bleeding + Beetles
Management of forested ecosystems that are being affected by this introduced pathogen depends critically on understanding the magnitude of the threat. The Park District was aware that P. ramorum had been detected in their forests as early as 2001, but in the absence of knowledge of the distribution and severity of the problem, rational management plans cannot be developed. Beginning in 2009, with funding from the Park District, a team consisting of David Wood, Greg Biging, Maggi Kelly, Brice McPherson, and numerous field workers initiated a project to map the location and severity of SOD in coast live oaks in the five major forested parks that lie along the East Bay Hills using a network of permanent plots. These parks are Wildcat Canyon and Tilden Regional Parks, Huckleberry Regional Botanic Preserve, and Redwood and Anthony Chabot Regional Parks. These all lie directly east of densely settled Richmond, El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro. The goal of this study is to develop models of change in disease incidence and severity and to predict future stand characteristics.
Figure 3. Plots in Redwood Park with both symptomatic and dead coast live oaks. Image produced by Sam Blanchard, GIF Berkeley.
Analysis of the Redwood Park survey data illustrates this approach. We used geographic information system (GIS) technology and GPS devices to locate 105 plot sites randomly assigned within oak-bay habitats that were identified by vegetation type maps. Stand characteristics recorded for each plot include stem diameter at breast height (DBH) for every woody plant >2 cm DBH, health of each stem, and recruitment of woody plants, estimated by counting the seedlings and saplings in two linear transects. Dead, previously infected trees are reliably identified by extensive beetle tunneling and associated fungal activity.
In Redwood Park in 2011, 19% of the coast live oaks in plots were symptomatic or killed by SOD. Comparison with the situation in Marin County in 2003 implies that considerably greater impacts are yet to come in East Bay forests (Figure 4). Resulting maps for Redwood Park show large spatial variation in the presence and severity of infected coast live oaks and differences in the proportions of trees in different stages of the disease (Figures 2 and 3). Note that in 2011 there were areas in Redwood Park with little or no actively detected bleeding coast live oaks (green) but with trees already killed by SOD. Because SOD is a progressive disease (i.e., unidirectional), knowledge of the distribution of the disease stages can be used to project stand-level change and to infer the history of the disease at a site.
Figure 4. Percentages of coast live oaks with symptoms of P. ramorum infection and those that died with these symptoms. The year indicates when each survey was done.
The data for the different stages of SOD will be used to develop a predictive model to facilitate management of these forests as the epidemic continues and expands into previously unaffected stands. Although no cure or treatment is likely to prevent further wildland infections and mortality, the ability to make data-based predictions at the landscape scale will enable planning decisions to be based on a factual foundation.
This work was initiated in collaboration with Nancy Brownfield, East Bay Regional Park District IPM Specialist, who died recently. Her presence will be missed.
McPherson, B.A., Mori, S.R., Wood, D.L., Svihra, P., Kelly, N.M., Storer, A.J., and Standiford, R.B. 2010. Responses of oaks and tanoaks to the sudden oak death pathogen after 8 y of monitoring in two California forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 2248-2255.
McPherson, B.A., Mori, S.R., Wood, D.L., Storer, A.J., Svihra, P., Kelly, N.M., Standiford, R.B. 2005. Sudden oak death in California: Disease progression in oaks and tanoaks. Forest Ecology and Management 213:71-89.
Rizzo, D. M., and M. Garbelotto. 2003. Sudden oak death: endangering California and Oregon forest ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 1:197-204.
- Editor: Sophie Kolding
- Author: Jan Gonzales
The goldspotted oak borer (GSOB; Agrilus auroguttatus) continues to attack and contribute to the high mortality of tens of thousands of oaks in San Diego County and the threat to oaks throughout southern California remains a considerable concern. In effort to inform professionals who are responsible for the stewardship of oaks and oak woodlands, a series of workshops has been offered in six southern California counties in which oaks may be at risk: Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego. The overlying objective was to spread the knowledge of goldspotted oak borer and minimize the spread of this non-native insect into new areas. These day-long events offered multi-agency presentations, hands-on displays, outreach materials and in some locations, short field trips.
Figure 1. Dead oak trees due to GSOB Figure 2. Two Adult GSOB on penny
(Photo source: Tom Coleman, USDA Forest Service) (Photo source: Tom Coleman, USDA Forest Service)
In cooperation, the USDA Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and the University of California have partnered with other local agencies, tribes and organizations to provide these workshops. Presenters at each session were coordinated from a cadre of specialists and researchers. Key speakers included Tom Coleman, Paul Zambino, Sheri Smith, Larry Swann, Lisa Fischer and Matthew Bokach (USDA Forest Service and Forest Health Protection); Tom Smith, Kim Camilli and Kathleen Edwards (CAL FIRE);Tom Scott, Doug McCreary, Jim Downer and Kevin Turner (University of California Cooperative Extension); and Vanessa Lopez (PhD candidate in the Entomology Department, UC Riverside). Introductory workshops were held monthly from September 2010 through February 2011. Topics covered were:
- GSOB history and distribution
- GSOB identification and biology
- Ecological and economic impacts of infested oaks and oaks at-risk
- Integrated best management practices for GSOB infested and at-risk oak woodlands
- How to prepare for potential outbreak
- Utilization of GSOB infested oak wood
- Restoring oak woodlands impacted by GSOB
Figure 3. Larvae Feeding Galleries, seen in cambium Figure 4. GSOB larvae in firewood (Photo source:
of oak wood cross-section (Photo source: Tom Scott, UC Cooperative Extension)
Kim Camilli, CAL FIRE)
In early May 2012, two additional workshops were held to provide updates from on-going research, best management practices and mitigation and education efforts. The session on May 1st was held in Altadena in partnership with the Los Angeles County Fire Department-Forestry Division and the County Parks and Recreation Department. The following workshop, held on May 2nd, was hosted in partnership with the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Temecula.
- The goldspotted oak borer in an introduced, non-native beetle attacking and killing coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), California black oak (Quercus kelloggii), and canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis) trees in San Diego County.
- The adult goldspotted oak borer (GSOB) Agrilus auroguttatus is a small, bullet-shaped beetle about 10mm (0.4 in.) long and has six golden yellow spots on its dark green forewings.
- Mature larvae are white, legless, slender and about 18mm (0.75 in.) long with two pincher-like spines at the tip of the abdomen. Larvae feed under the bark on the trunk and larger branches.
- Larval feeding kills patches and strips of cambium tissue beneath the bark, which causes dark staining and sap flow. The larvae pupate in the outer bark and leave D-shaped exit holes about 1/8 in. wide when they emerge.
- GSOB produce only one beetle generation per year.
- The goldspotted oak borer’s peak flight and breeding season is May through October.
- There is on-going research being conducted on biological and chemical GSOB control methods for preventative management; trees at various degrees of infestation; and the wood from infested, dead and felled trees.
- Currently, there are no effective treatments that can eradicate GSOB once it becomes established.
- Goldspotted oak borer larvae and pupae can survive under the bark of wood from large branches and trunks for up to a year after a tree dies.
- Currently, best management practices to minimize introduction of GSOB to new areas is to let wood cure at least two years after the tree dies before moving firewood from infested areas or grind wood into 3-inch particles.
- Before any type of treatment on oaks is initiated for GSOB infested trees or as a preventative measure on high-valued trees, a management plan should be developed first.
- There are no quarantines or zones of infestation in place by statewide authorities for GSOB; however, in 2011 the California Pest Council established the California Firewood Taskforce, a coalition of stakeholders that initiates and facilitates efforts within the state to protect our native and urban forests from invasive pests that can be moved on firewood.
- The Early Warning System is a citizen scientist program established to enlist the help of those concerned about oaks for the purpose of identifying oak tree health in southern California urban and woodland areas.
- Information and resources may be found on the Goldspotted Oak Borer website, www.gsob.org. To stay informed of current news, information and future training opportunities, we recommend you join the GSOB email list.
(Photo source: Lorin Lima, UC Cooperative Extension-San Diego)
Nearly 500 professionals attended these workshops. Findings from follow-up workshop surveys indicate that potentially more than 2,600 others will learn about GSOB through outreach extended by workshop participants. Although evaluation and survey responses point towards a successful series of GSOB workshops, the threat of further goldspotted oak borer attacks remains. As the peak emergence and flight season occurs during the same time of year of increased vacation travel and camping in southern California, we are all encouraged to share the news about GSOB and it’s threat to oaks with others along with the message to not move firewood – “Buy It Where You Burn It.”
For more information:
Goldspotted Oak Borer website: http://www.gsob.org
California Firewood Task Force: http://www.firewood.ca.gov
Goldspotted Oak Borer - The Center for Invasive Species Research, UC Riverside:
Goldspotted Oak Borer – UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/NATURAL/index.html
- Posted By: Sophie Kolding
- Written by: Tom Scott
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A catastrophic infestation of the goldspotted oak borer, which has killed more than 80,000 oak trees in San Diego County in the last decade, might be contained by controlling the movement of oak firewood from that region, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside.
“This may be the biggest oak mortality event since the Pleistocene (12,000 years ago),” said Tom Scott, a natural resource specialist. “If we can keep firewood from moving out of the region, we may be able to stop one of the biggest invasive pests to reach California in a long time.”
A cadre of UC researchers is leading the effort to assess and control the unprecedented infestation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Scott and others are working to identify where the infestation began, how it is spreading through southern California’s oak woodlands, and what trees might be resistant. In October 2010 Scott and other UCR researchers received $635,000 of a $1.5 million grant of federal stimulus money awarded to study the goldspotted oak borer and sudden oak death.
The goldspotted oak borer (Agrilus auroguttatus), which is native to Arizona but not California, likely traveled across the desert in a load of infested firewood, possibly as early as the mid-1990s, Scott said. Researchers have confirmed the presence of the beetle as early as 2000 near the towns of Descanso and Guatay, where nearly every oak tree is infested.
The half-inch-long beetle attacks mature coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia), California black oaks (Quercus kelloggii) and canyon live oaks (Quercus chrysolepis). Female beetles lay eggs in cracks and crevices of oak bark, and the larvae burrow into the cambium of the tree to feed, irreparably damaging the water- and food-conducting tissues and ultimately killing the tree. Adult beetles bore out through the bark, leaving a D-shaped hole when they exit.
Scott and Kevin Turner, goldspotted oak borer coordinator for UC Agricultural and Natural Resources (ANR) at UCR, said that field studies in San Diego County in the last six months point strongly to the transportation of infested oak firewood as the source of the invasion that threatens 10 million acres of red oak woodlands in California.
Outbreaks have been found 20 miles from the infestation area, implicating firewood as the most likely reason for the beetle infestation leap-frogging miles of healthy oak woodlands to end up in places like La Jolla. In contrast, communities that harvest their own trees for firewood have remained relatively beetle-free, even as adjacent areas suffer unprecedented rates of oak mortality. Both examples support the growing conviction that the movement of infested firewood is the primary means by which the beetles are spreading, Scott said.
California’s coast live oaks, black oaks and canyon live oaks seem to have no resistance to the goldspotted oak borer and, so far, no natural enemies of the beetle have been found in the state.
The devastation can be measured in costs to communities and property owners for tree removal, the loss of recreation areas and wildlife habitat, lower property values and greater risk of wildfires. The three oaks under attack may be the single most important trees used by wildlife for food and cover in California forests and rangelands.
Most of the dead and dying trees are massive, with trunks 5 and 6 feet in diameter, and are 150 to 250 years old. The cost of removing one infested tree next to a home or in a campground can range from $700 to $10,000. The cost of removing dead and dying trees in San Diego County alone could run into the tens of millions of dollars. In Ohio, which has experienced similar losses from the emerald ash borer, several small cities went bankrupt because of tree removal costs associated with that beetle, Scott said.
So many oaks have died in the Burnt Rancheria campground on the Cleveland National Forest – a favorite spot for campers who favored the shade of a dense canopy of coast live oaks – that the Forest Service has had to erect shade structures. Other state and county parks in the region have suffered equally devastating losses.
Turner said an Early Warning System of community volunteers launched in San Diego County now includes representatives from every southern California county as far north as Ventura. Those volunteers are trained to monitor the health of oak trees in their communities and report any unusual changes.
At the same time, a network of UC Cooperative Extension, ANR, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies in the region is working with woodcutters, arborists and consumers to discourage the sale and transportation of infested wood. Wood that is bark-free or that has dried and cured for at least one year is generally safe to transport, Scott said. This relatively small change in firewood-handling methods could save a statewide resource without jeopardizing the firewood industry, he said.
Local, state and federal agencies recognize that firewood production is one of the least-regulated industries in California, and view UC Cooperative Extension education as the best means of stopping goldspotted oak borer movement in firewood.
“Quarantines don’t work, but enlightened self-interest can keep oak woodland residents from importing GSOB-infested firewood,” Scott said. “This is a situation where the university can play a critical role in changing behavior through research and education rather than regulation.”
A cross-section of an oak infested by the goldspotted oak borer shows the damage done by the non-native beetle.
To view original article, Click Here.
Goldspotted Oak Borer Information
GSOB Research at UCR
UC Cooperative Extension
- Posted By: Jaime Adler
- Written by: Michael Hamilton, Director of the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve and Rulon Clark, Assistant Professor at CSU San Diego
One would think that in the oak woodlands, the most important predators would be mammals such as mountain lion, coyote and bobcat. But new field research is discovering that the most important predator may be rattlesnakes in terms of overall biomass. Rulon Clark, an assistant professor at California State University at San Diego, and his team of eight graduate and undergraduate students, are studying rattlesnakes and their prey at one of the newest University of California Natural Reserves, Blue Oak Ranch Reserve. The 3,300 acre reserve is situated on the west slope of Mount Hamilton, only 10 miles from San Jose.
Clark and his students have documented densities of rattlesnakes on the reserve that far exceed any they have previously encountered throughout California, including the remote Mojave Desert. Rattlesnakes have likely been left alone by humans at Blue Oak Ranch Reserve for many decades. Given the local abundance of wild prey, the snakes have reached population levels that may have been typical prior to centuries of persecution by ranchers and hunters, according to Clark.
The rattlesnake researchers, dubbed “Team Crotalus,” have just completed nearly two months of detailed studies of the interactions between the northern Pacific rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus, and its preferred prey species the California ground squirrel, Spermophilus beecheyi. When confronted by predators, many animals engage in lengthy, conspicuous interactions involving stereotyped signals and displays. These antipredator signals have been studied mainly as warning signals directed toward conspecifics, even though they may also serve to communicate with predators. Studies of how these signals affect predators have been rare because predation is infrequent and difficult to observe in the field.
Team Crotalus has begun assembling a one-of-a-kind database of natural antipredator signaling interactions and predator responses. To do so, they are using a high tech assortment of tools. These range from radio telemetry transmitters surgically implanted in the rattlesnakes, to miniature, battery-powered webcams. The webcams transmit live video of snake/squirrel interactions several miles away to the reserve headquarters for recording and observation. The team also confronts snakes with a mechanical, taxidermied rodent affectionately named “Robosquirrel.” The Robosquirrel is programmed to make antipredator sounds and movements to snakes in experimental encounters. The bouts allow the scientists to test predictions of how predators and prey communicate in controlled experiments. (Watch a video of a robosquirrel being struck by a rattlesnake).
Team Crotalus research has focused on the behavior of rattlesnakes confronted by two prey species, ground squirrels and kangaroo rats. These two distantly related rodents have evolved sophisticated anti-snake behavior independently. Comparing the two rodents’ interactions will allow the scientists to examine the role of various ecological and organismic factors that shape predator-prey signaling interactions. Their unique approach combines these methods in studies that simultaneously consider both prey signaling behavior and predator responses in an experimental context. This system promises to provide novel insights into such areas as honesty in animal communication, antagonistic coevolution, and the role of animal sensory systems in shaping signaling behavior.
For more information:
Bree Putman’s Blog: Strike, Rattle and Roll http://strikerattleroll.blogspot.com/
Rulon Clark Lab http://www.bio.sdsu.edu/pub/clark/Site/Home.html
Blue Oak Ranch Reserve http://www.blueoakranchreserve.org
Rulon Clark <email@example.com
Hamilton Michael <firstname.lastname@example.org