Study explores 100 year increase in forestry diseases

May 28, 2013

As ash dieback disease continues to threaten common ash trees across Europe, new research in the Journal of Quaternary Science explores the historic impact of forest diseases to discover if diseases played a significant factor in vegetation change.

The study explores how large-scale pathogen outbreaks were much more infrequent in the past, which suggests the human role in transporting pathogens to new locations, such as the international seed trade, is a major factor.

"The temperate and boreal forests of Europe and North America have been subject to repeated pathogen outbreaks over the last 100 years," said Martyn Waller from Kingston University. "Palaeoecology can, potentially, offer a long-term perspective on such disturbance episodes, providing information on their triggers, frequency and impact."

"Connections between climate change and biological trends are often difficult to establish from short-term studies. This paper looks at the fossil evidence available to reconstruct outbreaks of (such as ash dieback) and insect defoliators over the last 10,000 years, both in terms of their frequency and their influence on vegetation composition," said Waller. "The albeit limited evidence currently available supports a link with and it is likely that in the past the interaction between climate change and such pathogens produced long-term changes in abundance of tree taxa in the forests of North America and Europe."

Explore further: As climate changes, boreal forests to shift north, relinquish more carbon than expected

More information: Martyn Waller, Drought, disease, defoliation and death: forest pathogens as agents of past vegetation change, Journal of Quaternary Science, DOI: 10.1002/jqs.2631

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New genetics project could help save the ash tree

Dec 21, 2012

A Queen Mary scientist will embark on a new project to decode the ash tree's entire genetic sequence in the hope of stopping Britain's trees from being completely devastated by the Chalara ash dieback fungal ...

Promising new research in the fight against ash dieback

Nov 28, 2012

Ash trees have been suffering from the Chalara fraxinea fungus (otherwise known as ash dieback) across Europe: not only in mature forest areas, but also in urban areas and nurseries. It was discovered in Feb ...

Ash disease 'cannot be eradicated': UK minister

Nov 09, 2012

A deadly disease threatening swathes of ash trees in Britain cannot be eradicated, the environment secretary admitted on Friday as he announced plans to stem the growing problem.

Recommended for you

More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

14 hours ago

Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.