USGS WERC forest ecologist Dr. Nate Stephenson was quoted recently in an article about California drought and associated tree mortality on Mashable, a digital news website. The article focuses on how drought and other disturbances work together to kill trees in the Sierra Nevada and how drought and tree mortality may worsen in the future. Stephenson explains the process of tree death in vivid, relatable terms: during drought, the trees “basically start holding their breath,” he says.
Stephenson’s commentary is based on decades of research on tree populations in the Sierra Nevada. Recent projects have dug into the effects of California’s recent severe drought on tree mortality in several tree species, including pines, oaks, and Giant sequoia. Stephenson’s research program also investigates the role of forest disturbance more broadly, from bark beetles to climate change and fire. USGS research on forest disturbance plays an important role in helping land managers like the National Park Service and US Forest Service conserve natural resources and plan for the future.
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