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Posts Tagged: Akif Eskalen

Hundreds sign up for online oak woodland workshop

California oak woodlands are highly prized ecoregions where stately trees, many of them hundreds of years old, are cornerstones of a habitat for wildlife and native plants. Sadly, some of these ecosystems are seriously threatened by exotic pests and diseases, encroachment by less desirable vegetation, and wildfire.

Each year, UC Cooperative Extension hosts workshops to share scientific developments aimed at conserving these important habitats – and the economic value of ranching – on oak woodlands, which are found on the lower elevation slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the Coast Range and other foothill areas of California.

Typically, the workshops are held in person and draw moderate-sized audiences for presentations, questions and answers, and field trips. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's workshop was offered online in April with pre-recorded presentations available for viewing at the participants' convenience and a live question-and-answer session on Zoom.

The retooled event garnered 500 registrants, over 300 views of the YouTube videos and 140 participants in the live Q&A session. The presentations and Q&A session are still available online for future viewing as well.

“People from all walks of life participated, including those with professional and personal interest in oak woodlands,” said Yana Valachovic, UCCE forest advisor in Humboldt and Del Norte counties and a conference organizer.

UCCE research on the impact of conifer encroachment helped facilitate policy changes that make it easier for California landowners to remove conifers from oak woodlands. Photo by Yana Valachovic

Presentations at the 2020 conference included the following topics:

Encroachment by Douglas-fir

In Northern California, the biodiversity of oak woodlands is being threatened by Douglas-fir encroachment. The oaks' shade helps the young conifers get established with protection from harsh sun. In time, the fast-growing Douglas-fir trees pierce the oak canopies and begin to crowd out the areas' native understories, which are important for the diversity of birds, mammals and reptiles attracted to oaks.

As the Douglas-fir continue to grow and multiply, they threaten the very lives of the oak trees and the unique ecosystem they dominate.

To better understand the Douglas-fir encroachment, Valachovic established 10 research sites in Humboldt and Mendocino counties to gather information about the fate and the age of oaks. She and her research partners determined the ages of the oaks and firs, and counted the seedlings, saplings, snags and understory vegetation.

“With this research, we were able to demonstrate that even though the oak trees can be smaller in diameter they are much older than the Douglas-fir trees,” Valachovic said. “The encroachment process is happening quickly, and the oaks are falling out of the system.”

The shift appears to have been initiated in the mid-19th and early-20th centuries, coinciding with the Gold Rush and wildfire suppression.

With the data confirming Douglas-fir encroachment, Valachovic turned her attention to oak woodland restoration. At 14 sites in Humboldt and Trinity counties, her team studied the effects of Douglas-fir removal.

“Grasses and forbs under the oaks reestablished. Diameter growth on the oaks increased,” she said.

These research findings contributed directly to changes in policy that had previously limited land owners' ability to remove and sell conifers encroaching on oak woodland. The research also helped create new funding opportunities to support oak woodland restoration and conservation in Northern California.

The River Fire, which burned through much of the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center in 2018, provided many opportunities to study the regenerative aspects of fire on oak woodland.

Case study of oak woodland wildfire recovery

In July 2018, about two-thirds of the 5,289-acre UC Hopland Research and Extension Center was burned by the River Fire.

The transformation of the land, which had likely been without a large wildland fire for at least 100 years, was intense and stressful, said UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor Michael Jones. However, it also provided a unique opportunity for researchers to compare the impact of wildfire on the resiliency of vegetation on grazed and ungrazed oak woodland.

Jones established 35 one-fifth acre research plots at the research center and collected data two months following the fire and one year later. The research will continue in the future to better understand long-term impacts, but Jones was able to share revealing early results at the workshop.

Right after the fire, in severely burned areas areas, the future of the oaks looked ominous. Jones predicted 40% tree mortality.

“The oaks were exposed to persistent, intense heat. They were cooked,” he said. “But two months after the fire, we were already seeing basal sprouts. This was an amazing response by the trees. Oaks are pretty damn tough.”

A year after the fire, surveys showed that tree mortality in the burned areas was 25%, much less than Jones' early predictions. While some management for specific situations in severely burned areas may be necessary – such as removal of hazard trees, reducing fuels in defensible spaces or removal to control invasive species – the results of this work show the trees recover naturally.

“Esthetically, I know these systems aren't as pleasing as they were before, but ecologically, they are healthy and recovering,” he said. “In 100 years, it will look just as good as before the fire.”

John Bailey, right, director of the UC Hopland Research and Extension, speaks with UC ANR vice provost Mark Lagrimini where fire impact was evident shortly after the River Fire.The pasture on the left of the fence was grazed, the area on the right was not grazed.

Fire impacts in woodland areas previously grazed and not grazed

The fire on the research station also permitted Jones to compare the fire's differing impact on non-grazed and grazed oak woodland. At first, the grazed areas looked almost unscathed with minimal flame scorching on the bark, while an area where the pasture hadn't been grazed for 25 years had evidence of much higher severity fire.

“Grazing is a phenomenal way to help manage fuels,” Jones said. However, the grazed areas displayed ecological shortcomings a year later.

“In grazed pastures, the large mature trees were still alive, but there was no oak regeneration (basal sprouting or seedlings),” Jones said. “In the ungrazed area, a lot of biomass had been killed, but there's nearly 100% resprout of oak trees and we have an impressive amount of oak seedling recruitment.”

Jones said he isn't discouraging grazing.

“But it is important to protect sites from grazing, and especially wildlife browse, when a landowner or land managers' objectives are to regenerate or conserve oak woodlands,” Jones said.

A ball point pen points to a Mediterranean Oak Borer, indicating its tiny size.

New ambrosia beetle another threat to California oaks

Akif Eskalen, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, has identified a new insect-fungus team that causes oak borer wilt in Northern California Valley and Blue Oaks. It is an ambrosia beetle, commonly known as Mediterranean Oak Borer, which carries several fungi in its mouth. The beetle bores into the tree and introduces fungi to grow for food. The fungi spreads and disturbs the transportation of water and nutrients, causing wilt in the tree.

The oozing and staining lesions on the bark are similar to other oak fungal diseases, such as Sudden Oak Death. The beetle – native of Mediterranean basin countries in Africa, Asia and Europe – cannot fly far, so most likely is transported for long distances on infested firewood.

During the workshop, Eskalen suggested not moving firewood, removing heavily infested trees and chipping infested wood into 1-inch particles to reduce the spread of the ambrosia beetle and its fungal partner. He asked viewers to report any suspected oak tree infestations to the local agricultural commissioner, CDFA Diagnostic Laboratories, UC Cooperative Extension advisors or CALFIRE. Chemical options for sparing oaks from the ambrosia beetles' devastation are under investigation.

A botanical specimen of Ione manzanita, a federally listed threatened species, is susceptible to root rot caused by introduced Phytophthora in its natural range. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Threats to oaks and other native plants from root rotting Phytophthora

Restoration plantings have inadvertently introduced plant pathogens to native oak woodland  ecosystems in California, said Ted Swiecki of Phytosphere Research, an organization that provides consulting services related to natural resource management, horticulture, urban forestry, and agriculture. The group of pathogens causing the damage are largely from the Phytophthora genus, first described in the 1860s. The name translates from Greek to “plant destroyer.” 

Swiecki has observed when Phytophthora infested plants and soils are introduced to native habitats, the pathogens can attack various native plants, including toyon, madrone, manzanita and full-grown oaks. Once established, the pathogen can spread along drainages, by moving soil from one area to another and by hitchhiking on equipment, tires and hiking boots.

The pathogen can easily be overlooked at nurseries, which, by their nature, have conditions that favor Phytophthora development. Plants at nurseries are well watered, have high root density and are often placed on the ground where they can pick up pathogens.

He said the best approach to tackling Phytophthora is not using nursery stock for restoration or beautification of natural oak woodland. Direct seeding, using natural regeneration, or onsite propagation are safer ways to enhance vegetation in oak woodland.

“It's easier to prevent Phytophthora from being introduced in the first place and much cheaper and more effective than trying to eradicate it later,” Siewcki said.

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at 11:34 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment

Names in the News

Delk joins Development Services

Emily Delk

Emily Delk joined the Development Services team in August as the director of Annual Giving and Donor Stewardship Programs.

She brings fundraising and event planning experience from a broad background of nonprofit organizations including the Crocker Art Museum, Sutter Health, and Fairytale Town. Earlier this year, Delk was selected as one of 10 development professionals to compete for cash and in-kind support through a public-speaking program called Fast Pitch, where she earned high praise and won top prizes.

She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in communications from Chapman University in Orange.

Delk is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1346 and eddelk@ucanr.edu

Eskalen moves to UC Davis

Akif Eskalen

Akif Eskalen, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist whose research focuses on plant pathology at UC Riverside, has accepted a new position at UC Davis. He will be filling the position of his late mentor, Doug Gubler. From now on, he will work on grapes, strawberries, caneberries, blueberries and other tree fruits.

“Akif has been instrumental in bringing new light to the understanding of such basic disease problems as citrus twig and shoot dieback, citrus botryosphaeria branch canker, citrus dry root rot and ‘Fukumoto' foamy bark (http://eskalenlab.ucr.edu/citrusdiseases.html),” wrote Ben Faber, UCCE advisor in Ventura County, in the Topics for Subtropics blog. “He has cleared up the mysteries surrounding avocado black streak, dothiorella branch canker and avocado stem and leaf blight. His studies have also covered oak diseases that are exacerbated by invasive pests (http://eskalenlab.ucr.edu/handouts/oakwoodlandsdiseasesmanagement.pdf).”

Eskalen and John Kabashima, UCCE advisor emeritus, recently received the Award of Arboricultural Research from the Western Chapter International Society of Arboriculture, recognizing their research on the polyphagous shot hole borer, a beetle that is causing severe fusarium dieback damage to avocado and landscape trees in Southern California (http://eskalenlab.ucr.edu/pshb.html).

Eskalen can be reached at 267 Hutchison Hall at UC Davis and aeskalen@ucdavis.edu.

Hoddle and Stouthamer elected ESA fellows

Mark Hoddle, left, and Richard Stouthamer

Mark Hoddle and Richard Stouthamer have been elected 2018 fellows of the Entomological Society of America, the largest organization in the world serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and individuals in related disciplines.

Hoddle and Stouthamer are among 10 new fellows elected by the Governing Board of the ESA, an honor that acknowledges outstanding contributions to entomology in research, teaching, extension and outreach, administration or the military.

Hoddle, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist and director of UC Riverside's Center for Invasive Species Research, is known for his work on the biological control of invasive arthropods that adversely affect agricultural, urban and wilderness areas.

Stouthamer, a UC Riverside professor of entomology, is known for his research on wolbachia, invasive species and insect-transmitted plant pathogens.

The fellows will be recognized during Entomology 2018, the Joint Annual Meeting of the Entomological Societies of America, Canada and British Columbia, Nov. 11-14, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Merenlender elected California Academy of Sciences fellow 

Adina Merenlender
UC Cooperative Extension specialist and UC Berkeley adjunct professor Adina Merenlender has been elected a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. She will be formally inducted on Oct. 9 during the Fellows Annual Meeting and Gathering in San Francisco. The Fellows of the California Academy of Sciences are a group of distinguished scientists, nominated and appointed in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the natural sciences. Fellows help extend the academy's positive impact on research, public engagement and education through individual and collaborative efforts with academy researchers and staff.

In a nominating letter, UC Berkeley biology professor Claire Kremen called Merenlender “an accomplished and impactful conservation biologist.”

Merenlender's work spans an array of topics, from genes to ecosystems and single species management to regional land use planning. Currently she is involved in three main research efforts:

  • Land use planning to support biodiversity conservation and climate resilience in California oak woodlands
  • Watershed restoration and sustainable watershed management in Mediterranean ecosystems
  • Development of effective citizen science and amateur naturalist and steward training programs with lasting benefits for biodiversity conservation

According to the academy, the scientists elected as fellows have shown strong evidence of world-class impact, measured through publications, discoveries and awards. Merelender has published more than 80 papers in conservation biology, including co-writing the book “Corridor Ecology: the science and practice of linking landscapes for biodiversity conservation.” In 2016, Merenlender was recognized for her extension and outreach when she won the UC ANR Distinguished Service Award.

In its selection criteria for fellows, the academy notes that potential candidates are engaged in science communication efforts.

Merenlender is founder and director of the UC California Naturalist program. The program launched in 2012 with five partner institutions and has grown into a network of more than 37 partners. They have collectively offered more than 100 certification courses, training 1,864 naturalists who have contributed more than 100,000 volunteer hours, reaching 53,000 people.

Building on the success of the California Naturalist program, Merenlender is designing a Climate Stewards program to provide outreach, training and engagement with diverse audiences on climate change science and policy. The Climate Stewards advisory team has set the goal of launching the program in 2019.

“As an extension scientist, (Merenlender) is strongly attuned to the importance of conducting research with direct relevance to contemporary environmental challenges and to connecting research with conservation on the ground,” wrote UC Berkeley professor David Ackerly in a letter seconding Merenlender's nomination to be a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. – Jeannette Warnert

UC communicators bring home gold, silver and bronze

Steve Elliot, left, of the Western IPM Center, and Diane Nelson the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences won multiple communications awards.

Six communicators affiliated with UC Davis and UC ANR received a total of 10 awards for excellence from the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).

They brought home five gold or first-place awards: three silver or second-place awards; and two bronze or third-place awards. “That was quite a haul!” commented an ACE member on Facebook.

Diane Nelson, communication specialist with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, won two golds. One was for promotional writing, “Weighing Pig Personality,” (https://bit.ly/2KDdYmQ), featuring animal science professor Kristina Horback's pioneering research examining the role personality plays in the welfare and sustainable production of pigs. The second gold was for web writing, “The Last Stop: When There's Nowhere Colder to Go,” (https://bit.ly/2M6iOOR), spotlighting research by animal science professor Anne Todgham, who studies how climate change affects polar species. Both of Nelson's submissions drew perfect scores from the judges.

Kathy Keatley Garvey, communication specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won gold for best newswriting, “Why These Youngsters Want to Become Entomologists” (https://bit.ly/2sYwhye), about children of California migratory workers touring the Bohart Museum of Entomology and then staging a press conference to interview director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology. Judges awarded the news story a perfect score. Garvey also received a silver in the writing-for-the-web category for her Bug Squad blog post, “Once Upon a Monarch” (https://bit.ly/2BrePU5). She writes the blog, launched in 2008, every night, Monday through Friday, on the UC ANR website.

Jim Downing picked up an ACE gold award for California Agriculture journal.
Jim Downing, executive editor of California Agriculture, the peer-reviewed journal of UC ANR, won gold in the magazine division (http://calag.ucanr.edu). California Agriculture is a quarterly peer-reviewed journal reporting research, reviews and news on California's agricultural, natural and human resources. First published in December 1946, it is one of the country's oldest, continuously published, land-grant university research publications.

David Slipher, director of marketing and communications for the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, won gold for best picture story for his piece on “Pigeon Parenting” (https://bit.ly/2KCfCoN), focusing on research from the Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez lab. Calisi Rodríguez is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.

Steve Elliot, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center, won two silvers and a bronze: a silver for his photo essay, “America's Arctic Agriculture: Growing Crops, Managing Pests and Monitoring Invasives in Alaska” (https://bit.ly/2OS2Vtc); silver for the diversity awards video category, “Gold Spotted Oak Borer: A Threat to California's Oaks” (https://youtu.be/In2e5atd3ZY); and a bronze for the Western IPM Center's monthly newsletter, “The Western Front” (https://bit.ly/2M5mL6s). The center, a USDA-funded program, aims to promote smart, safe and sustainable pest management to protect the people, environment and economy of the American West, encompassing 17 western states and territories.

Gregory Watry, science writer for the College of Biological Sciences, won a bronze award in the “Writing for Diverse Audiences” (https://bit.ly/2M4Nq3o) in a diversity awards category. The story described undergraduate research opportunities in Calisi Rodriguez's lab.

ACE is a worldwide association of communicators, educators and information technologists, offers professional development and networking for individuals who extend knowledge about agriculture, natural resources, and life and human sciences. The awards were presented Aug. 7 at the 2018 Ag Media Summit held in Scottsdale, Ariz., where ACE members joined forces with U.S. crop and livestock news media professionals. – Kathy Keatley Garvey

AVP Powers announces 51 proposals invited for competitive and high-reward grants

AVP Wendy Powers announced the letters of intent (LOIs) for which principal investigators have been invited to submit full proposals to ANR's Competitive Grants Program and High-Risk/High-Reward Grants Program. The list of 51 approved projects can be found at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/261626.pdf.

This year ANR received a total of 108 letters of intent — 97 for the Competitive Grants Program and 11 for the High-Risk/High-Reward Grants Program. Strategic Initiative leaders and their respective panels reviewed all letters of intent thoroughly to address the appropriateness of the proposals in addressing the goals and criteria outlined by each funding opportunity.

ANR Competitive Grants Program

The purpose of the ANR competitive grants program is to address high-priority issue areas identified by at least one of the strategic initiatives: Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases (EIPD), Healthy Families and Communities (HFC), Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), Sustainable Natural Ecosystems (SNE), and Water Quality, Quantity and Security (Water).

ANR Competitive Grants Program 2017 Cycle:

  • Full proposals due June 19
  • Technical peer review: mid-June – early September 2017
  • Strategic Initiative review and recommendations: end of September 2017
  • Program Council review and recommendations: October/November 2017
  • Announcement of funded grants: November/December 2017

High-Risk/High-Reward Grants Program

Given the complexity of societal problems, high-risk research is necessary to achieve gains for real progress in addressing present and emerging challenges. This program will provide funds to initiate and complete research and proof-of-concept efforts that serve as the basis for larger funding opportunities. These projects must be of a high-risk/high-reward nature that are best conducted in a controlled, research setting and, if successful, lend themselves to subsequent larger funding opportunities and/or intellectual property development.

Proposed projects must be within the scope of the ANR Strategic Vision. All ANR academics with PI status are eligible to apply. Proposals will be accepted using the same timeline as outlined for the traditional competitive grants program, but reviewed separately due to the nature of the proposal.

For questions about ANR's competitive grants program or high-risk/high-reward grants program, please contact Melanie Caruso at mmcaruso@ucanr.edu.

Nutrition Policy Institute launches Research to Action news brief

The Nutrition Policy Institute has launched a news brief called Research to Action. The publication will provide information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities. 

The first issue looks at the work of the National Drinking Water Alliance (NDWA). NPI is the “hub” for NDWA, which engages in and coordinates evidence-based efforts going on all over the country to improve tap water safety and access, especially for children, and to provide drinking water education and promotion. The NDWA website is a “go-to” resource for information on drinking water. 
 
Future editions of Research to Action will be sent several times per year. Please sign up for the Research to Action mailing list, and please share Research to Action with colleagues who would be interested in receiving it.

4-H calls alumni and friends to join its new network

If 4-H has touched your life, raise your hand. Visit http://4-H.org/raiseyourhand to voice your support for the California 4-H youth development program, help it win a national competition and connect with a network of 4-H alumni and friends.

You are considered alumni if you were in a 4-H Club, took part in a 4-H after-school program, served as a volunteer leader or taught a project. Friends of 4-H are also invited to raise their hands.

“Having experienced our programs first-hand, our alumni know about the positive impact of 4-H,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and a 4-H alumna.

As part of the new 4-H network being built in the 4-H Raise Your Hand campaign, members will get news about 4-H programs in California and stay in touch with a program that made a difference in their lives.

“I've raised my hand,” said Humiston, who credits 4-H with helping her become the first in her family to attend college. She later served in the Peace Corps, received a federal appointment from President Obama and now leads the statewide research and outreach arm of UC.

The National 4-H program, which currently empowers nearly 6 million youth across the country, aims to extend its reach to 10 million by 2025. It has launched a competition among states to see which ones can add the most alumni and friends to the network by June 30, 2017. A map showing the current front runners is on the registration page.

Posted on Monday, May 1, 2017 at 10:00 AM
  • Author: Jeannette Warnert

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