Potential ecological effects of sudden oak death on mesic oak forests in the southern Appalachians
Watkins, Monica Helen Moss
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The causal agent of sudden oak death (SOD), Phytophthora ramorum, is expected to eventually invade forests in the southern Appalachians. Dominant overstory and understory species, Quercus rubra L. and Rhododendron maximum L., respectively, are susceptible to the pathogen and may be affected by SOD. The objective was to quantify the effects of simulated SOD on under two possible scenarios: (1) a moderate severity outbreak of SOD with high mortality of Q. rubra only, and (2) a high severity scenario in which the R. maximum understory would be severely impacted in addition to Q. rubra. Results show subtle changes in herbaceous layer vegetation and seedling establishment in scenario 1 and pronounced changes in scenario 2; changes in litterfall under both scenarios; and pronounced changes in soil respiration in scenario 2.