Drought puts California forests at increased risk

Mar 12, 2014 John Stumbos University of California, Davis
Lack of soil moisture makes trees more susceptible to diseases, insects, and wildfire.

March 12, 2014
(from the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Lassen County fir trees dying from a bark beetle injury and disease. (photo: Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM Program)
UC Davis plant ecologist Mark Schwartz explained how moisture-starved trees are at increased risk in a recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Low soil-moisture content stresses trees, compromising their ability to fight disease and making them more vulnerable to invasions from pests like the bark beetle.

“As a consequence, tree mortality increases and we have more dead wood — fuel for wildfire,” Schwartz said.

That has already happened in other areas of the western United States, but thus far California has been comparatively lucky.

“I hope we continue to be fortunate,” he said.

Schwartz, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy, is also the director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment at UC Davis.

(Read the full article by Michael Gardner, March 2, 2014, in the San Diego Union-Tribune.)

Media contact:
•    Mark Schwartz, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, UC Davis, 530-752-0671, [email protected].

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, contact:
•    Ann Filmer, Senior Director of Communications, 530-754-6788 [email protected]
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