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Tree deaths have doubled across the western US
Date:1/22/2009

r drought could be stressing trees, leading to higher death rates, he said. Warmer temperatures also might favor insects and diseases that attack trees. Some recent outbreaks of tree-killing bark beetles in the West have already been linked to warming temperatures.

"Tree death rates are like interest on a bank account the effects compound over time," said Nate Stephenson, also with the U.S. Geological Survey and research team co-leader. "A doubling of death rates eventually could reduce average tree age in a forest by half, thus reducing average tree size."

In some cases, increasing tree deaths could indicate forests vulnerable to sudden, extensive die-back, similar to forest die-back seen over the last few years in parts of the southwestern states, Colorado, and British Columbia. "That may be our biggest concern," said Stephenson. "Is the trend we're seeing a prelude to bigger, more abrupt changes to our forests?"


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Contact: Phil van Mantgem
pvanmantgem@usgs.gov
707-825-5189
United States Geological Survey
Source:Eurekalert

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