Campus: CSU, Sonoma -- April 12, 2001

SSU Geography Professor Receives Grant to Study Sudden Oak Death Spread in Sonoma County

Sonoma State University geography professor Ross Meentemeyer has received a $36,000 grant from the Sonoma County Fish and Wildlife Board to study ways to forecast the spread of Sudden Oak Death in Sonoma County.

Meentemeyer and other SSU biologists will work with Maggi Kelley, co-director of UC-Berkeley's Center for Assessment and Monitoring of Forest and Environmental Resources (CAMFER).
The research will use Geographic Information Technologies to examine the spatial distribution of Sudden Oak Death, seeking to understand the ecological and human-influenced factors that
are involved in the spread of the disease.

The grant provides for the use of high-resolution digital aerial photography, and GPS surveys on the ground, to determine the current distribution and spread of infected trees. The proposed study sites are Fairfield Osborn Preserve, Audubon Canyon Ranch's Bouverie Preserve, Jack London State Park, and Annadel State Park.

The County has the northernmost edge of the disease in California, and it includes areas of severe infestation as well as oak woodlands in which the disease is just beginning.

The researchers will develop a model of the disease's progression across the landscape to provide land managers and public officials with a tool to prepare management and mitigation strategies, especially in areas of high infection risk.

"This model will also provide a greater understanding of the ecological and human-related factors associated with Sudden Oak Death's spread," the professor says. "Such an understanding will be invaluable for educating Sonoma County citizens about ways to avoid inadvertently spreading the disease further."

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