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Students contribute to study on Oregon’s dying trees

February 05, 2009

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Ecological data collection conducted by undergraduate students during a College Outdoors trip has been included in a Science journal paper titled “Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States.”  The paper discusses the mortality rate of trees in the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia. Studies show that the rate of tree death in this area has doubled in only 17 years. This can partially be attributed to the fact that temperatures have risen over one degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, leading to droughts and an abundance of insects and disease. Their research contributions on the changing dynamics of western forests has recently drawn the attention of a number of high-profile national and international media outlets.

Lewis & Clark students have collected data for the Franklin lab every August since 2006 as part of the Environmental Service Project. Alum and 2006 Break Away trip leader Brian Erickson ‘06 said, “We returned to plots that were established 30-plus years previously and remeasured every five to 10 years to provide an ongoing image of forest dynamics over time. The students collected high-quality data, worked extremely hard, learned a lot, and had a good time in the process.”

New York Times (New York, NY) Environment Blamed in Western Tree Deaths

Seattle Times (Seattle, Wash.) Regional warming hurting NW forests, study says

BBC News (London, UK) Climate shift ‘killing US trees’