Wood Decay - Tree Failure Study
This project furthers our efforts to understand tree failure, and – ultimately – to develop more direct predictive guidelines on tree risk.
Specifically, the goal of the project is to link the information on tree failure contained in the California Tree Failure Report Program with the presence (or absence) of fungal colonizers in the failed wood (as determined by the Garbelotto assay).
We are especially interested in understanding whether wood decay fungi are active in trunk and branch breaks that have occurred in apparently sound wood (as in summer limb drop, for example). Ultimately, we aim to produce correlations between fungal colonizers and failure that are robust enough to have predictive value, i.e., we aim to enable arborists to test the wood of a standing but suspected-decayed tree for fungal presence (by taking a small wood sample and sending it to the lab) and then use the lab results together with our correlations (developed through this project) to better predict the risk of tree failure and guide tree management.
How to participate if you are a professional arborist, landscaper, parks manager, or otherwise involved with failed trees:
Please contact Igor (ilacan "at" ucanr.edu) with your complete mailing address to receive a "sampling kit" that includes pre-paid envelopes with full sampling instructions (no cost). As instructed in the kit, you will be asked to (1) complete a "failure report" form and send it to Igor, and (2) take a small sample of failed wood from the break and send it to the lab. In return you will receive, six to eight weeks later, a report detailing whether any fungal DNA was found in the failed wood.
Research staff, collaborators, and funding
The project is a collaboration between UCCE SM/SF County's Urban Forestry Advisor (Igor Lacan), the California Tree Failure Report Program (Katherine Jones and Larry Costello), and the Garbelotto Lab at UC Berkeley (Matteo Garbelotto and colleagues).
The project has been funded for 2015 and 2016 by a generous grant from Britton Fund. The project has been helpfully publicized by our friends at the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.