By: Carrie Ewing, PhD Student at The Ohio State University
We are always happy to have “guest-authors” who give us an insight into their work. Carrie Ewing, PhD Student at The Ohio State University, is currently researching tree genetics to determine the plant pathogen(s) that are causing beech leaf disease (BLD), a new and seemingly lethal disease affecting American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia).
The disease was first discovered in forests
in the northeastern United States and parts of Canada. John Pogacnik, a
biologist at Lake Metroparks in Ohio, first observed BLD in 2012 in northeast
Ohio, U.S.A. The disease has been spreading
rapidly and has now affected forests in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York State, and
In this article, I talk about the “mode of competition”, in other words whether trees of different species compete more of aboveground or belowground resources when growing in mixed stands. Additionally, I highlight the advantage of mixed forests in the context of climate change.
If you have read some of my articles like What factors determine whether tree species compete or complement each other?, you know how much I like mixed forests. Forests rich in tree species not only are known for providing higher levels of ecosystem services but also be prompter to cope with unexpected disturbances and climatic changes. However, the mechanisms of competitions in multi-species forests are all but clear. Scientists are still studying which combinations of tree species grow better in a particular environment or what factor promote or reduce a positive growth complementarity in secondary forests and/or plantations. In one of my latest posts on the blog Forest Monitor I have tried to explain in simple terms the concept of how complementarity for a give species can be positive or negative when growing in association with other species depending on resource availability.
A group of researchers from all over Europe worked together to release a unique database to the scientific community. Assembling data collected under the auspices of an EU Cost Action, the database BeechCOSTe52 gathers over 860,000 measurements of phenotypic traits. These data, from more than 500,000 beech trees growing in plantations located in 38 European countries, cover the entire range of beech’s distribution. Over 15 years of work have gone into producing the database; a vital resource for analyzing and understanding the beech’s adaptive capacity to climate change and the potential effects of climate on its distribution range.