Studying Tree Health
April 28, 2009
Trees are dying twice as fast as they did three decades ago in older forests of the western United States, and data collected by Lewis & Clark students are helping scientists identify warming temperatures as a contributing factor. Student data were included in a paper titled “Widespread Increase of Tree Mortality Rates in the Western United States,” which appeared in the January 23 issue of Science.
For the past three summers, Lewis & Clark students have engaged in an environmental service project with University of Washington researchers through the College Outdoors program, directed by Joe Yuska. Students have gathered data at long-term forest research plots throughout the Pacific Northwest.
“We returned to plots that were established 30-plus years previously and remeasured every 5 to 10 years to provide an ongoing image of forest dynamics over time,” explains Brian Erickson B.A. ‘06, leader of the 2006 and 2008 service projects. “The students collected high-quality data, worked extremely hard, learned a lot, and had a good time in the process.”