Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. Earth Science News .

Rumors of southern pine deaths have been exaggerated
by Staff Writers
Athens GA (SPX) Jul 07, 2015

A healthy pine stand grows in Whitehall Forest in Athens, Ga. Image courtesy Brittany Barnes/University of Georgia. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Researchers at the University of Georgia have a message for Southern tree farmers worried about unexplainable pine tree deaths: Don't panic. A new study published in Forest Ecology and Management analyzed growth in thousands of pine tree plots across the Southeast and indicates that "southern pine decline" isn't happening on a large scale.

Some earlier reports and studies had hinted at large-scale deaths of pine trees from unexplained reasons. But looking at the hard data shows that this is not the case, said Kamal Gandhi, an associate professor and forest health expert at UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

"No one freak out," Gandhi said bluntly. "There are some pine health issues that need to be addressed, but southern pine decline isn't one of them. There are a whole bunch of factors we need to consider at the local instead of regional level."

Since the 1950s, when mature stands of loblolly pine in Alabama died, there have been reports of trees either dying or deteriorating for unknown reasons across the Southeast, and some researchers have pointed to root-feeding weevils and associated fungi as the culprits.

These tree deaths have been called loblolly pine die-off, pine decline and, in the past five years or so, southern pine decline. The Southeast is the "wood basket of the world," Gandhi said, so any hints that one of the most important economic drivers in this region is just dying off is a concern.

An annual report by the Georgia Forestry Commission shows that in this state alone, the forest industry supported more than 50,000 jobs and generated $365 million in revenue. Of the four southern pine species, one--loblolly--is particularly important to the forest industry as the source of wood pellets, lumber and paper, among other wood products.

"Landowners had become concerned," said David Coyle, a post-doctoral researcher at the Warnell School. "If this widespread southern pine decline was real, then landowners were wondering if they should change their management practices or even not grow loblolly if those trees were just going to die."

Gandhi, Coyle and other researchers at the Warnell School and U.S. Forest Service spent three years poring over data collected by the agency's Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, looking for patterns in tree mortality rates and reviewing pine health issues in the Southeast.

Data in the inventory encompasses everything from forest location, size, tree growth, mortality and how many trees are harvested to species. It provided everything researchers needed to look at 6,533 forest plots to calculate tree growth and mortality. What they found was that only a small percentage of pine plots across the Southeast were dying off, and virtually all of those trees died for an identifiable reason--fire, insects, weather or invasive vegetation.

UGA researchers also don't believe root-feeding weevils and the fungi they bring with them are behind the tree deaths.

"Everywhere you find dead or dying trees, you are going to find certain things, including these beetles and a certain group of root-infesting fungi," Coyle explained. "It doesn't necessarily mean these organisms caused the tree to die."

Gandhi, Coyle and Brittany Barnes, a research coordinator in the Warnell School, have been collecting data in an extensive research project investigating southern pine decline for the past three years.

"Our tentative results show that at least some of these fungi are in healthy and unhealthy stands and are not a threat to our southern pine forests," Barnes said. "These fungi are widespread but not deadly."

There are definitely environmental factors that do affect tree health, Gandhi said. These include site and soil conditions, drought, climate change, insects, pathogens and natural aging of the trees.

However, the results of this study show that standard management practices are working just fine, Coyle explained.

"There isn't a big problem," he said. "Stay the course on established management practices."

Additional study co-authors include Larry Morris, a professor in the Warnell School, and Forest Service scientists Kier Klepzig, Frank Koch, John Nowak, William Otrosina and William Smith. The article on "A review of southern pine decline in North America" is available here

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Southern Pine Health Project
Forestry News - Global and Local News, Science and Application

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Can pollution help trees fight infection?
London, UK (SPX) Jul 01, 2015
Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens. "It looks like the very act of tolerating chemical pollution may give trees an advantage from biological invasion", says Dr Frederic E. Pitre of the University of Montreal and one of the researchers behind the discovery. Unexpectedly, whilst studying the presence of genetic informati ... read more

Nepal quake: Flat owners baulk at return to high-life

Pope takes message to defend poor, environment to Bolivia

Sri Lanka probes WFP over tsunami SUV gifts

Brazil orders search-and-rescue aircraft

Lower cost ultrasound degassing now possible in processing aluminum

Making new materials with micro-explosions: ANU media release

New technique enables magnetic patterns to be mapped in 3-D

Engineers give invisibility cloaks a slimmer design

Scientists to use baited cameras to count world shark population

Researcher discovers groundwater modeling breakthrough

Restored streams take 25 years or longer to recover

Record-breaking heavy rainfall events increased under global warming

Has US Already Lost in the Arctic

Soil water, microbes influence carbon in world's coldest desert

Retreating sea ice linked to changes in ocean circulation

Backward-moving glacier helps scientists explain glacial earthquakes

Omega-3 breakthrough could help fish farms: UK scientists

Parched paddies strike Thai junta's economic weak spot

Rising fossil fuel energy costs spell trouble for global food security

Reusable bag users more likely to buy veggies -- and junk food

Volcanic eruptions are important for world climate

Volcanic eruptions that changed human history

Earthquakes in western Solomon Islands have long history

China using animals to predict earthquakes: report

South Sudan: four years of freedom, 18 months of war

Burkina's leader mediates spat between presidential guard, PM

Water point 'bank machines' boost Kenya slums

Somali Shebab attack army camp killing several

World's oldest man dies at 112 in Japan

Revised view of brain circuit reveals how we avoid powerful odors

Study: Frustrated customers quicker to blame human brands

Researchers show how our sense of smell evolved, including in cave men

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.