Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a serious exotic disease, is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California. Currently SOD is found in the wild lands of 14 coastal California counties, from Monterey to Humboldt. While patchy in distribution, with each passing year, the swath of infection continues to become more contiguous. Researchers have discovered that Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes SOD, spreads most often on infected California bay laurel leaves. Symptomatic bay leaves are often the first sign that SOD has arrived at a location, and generally precedes oak infections. Some management options are available (sanitation, chemical preventative treatments, bay removal), but they are effective only if implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected; hence, timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is key for a successful proactive attempt to slow down the SOD epidemic.
SOD-blitzes inform and educate the community about Sudden Oak Death, get locals involved in detecting the disease, and produce detailed local maps of disease distribution. The map can then be used to identify those areas where the infestation may be mild enough to justify proactive management.
SOD Blitz season is upon us, and we need Citizen-Scientists like yourself help map the spread of Sudden Oak Death (SOD)! Matteo Garbelotto's laboratory, in conjunction with the California Native Plant Society, is organizing this yearly survey project, which promises to be our largest ever. Come to this meeting, collect samples in your community, and have them laboratory analyzed for SOD. Thanks to support from USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry and The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation we are offering this program to you for free!
Matteo Garbelotto, Ph.D., is the Principal Investigator of the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory and Adjunct Professor within the Department of ESPM at UC Berkeley. Learn more about SOD Blitzes at www.matteolab.org.
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