This year is poised to be one of the most significant in a decade for sudden oak death (SOD). Given the well-above-normal precipitation and two consecutive wet years in California, researchers hope to recruit as many citizen scientists as possible for the 2017 SOD Blitz surveys. Extensively monitoring at-risk communities for spread of the pathogen that causes SOD (Phytophthora ramorum) will be vital to optimizing oak protection.
“It is essential that we have as many eyes in the field as possible looking for SOD symptoms this spring. With all of the wet weather, it is likely that Phytophthora ramorum is on the move. Super-sized SOD Blitz surveys will more thoroughly inform communities about local pathogen activity, empowering them to make educated decisions about where best to focus preventative treatments and manage for the pathogen to help protect susceptible oaks. Prevention is key,” said Matteo Garbelotto, UC Berkeley faculty who runs the Blitzes.
When: Spring 2017, Weekends, April 14 – June 3, 2017 (1-hour training sessions – required)
Where: For locations and local details, go to www.sodblitz.org
Cost: FREE – Attendees should bring mobile devices or GPS units if they have them.
People living or recreating near areas known to be impacted by SOD are encouraged to participate in a Blitz. Volunteers with a smartphone should bring it to the training with the free “SODMAP Mobile” app already installed as it can help in identifying potential collection locations.
Symptomatic California bay laurel and tanoak leaves generally precede oak infections and are often the first sign that P. ramorum is in a location. Participants will be trained to identify and collect symptomatic bay and tanoak leaves as well as tanoak twigs and record sample locations. All materials necessary for sampling will be provided during training sessions.
SOD Blitz samples will be taken to the UC Berkeley Garbelotto lab to determine the presence or absence of the pathogen. Results will be posted online in the fall to SODMAP (www.sodmap.org) and to the SODMAP Mobile app (www.sodmapmobile.org). These two tools are updated annually with laboratory-confirmed (positive and negative) landscape findings and can be used to help inform people as to the presence and risk of SOD at a given location.
SOD is a serious invasive disease that is killing tanoak, coast live oak, California black oak, Shreve’s oak, and canyon live oak trees in California. It is the primary cause of tree mortality in coastal California, with more than 5 million trees having died in since its discovery in the mid-1990s. A water-loving organism, the pathogen continues to spread in drought years, but at a much slower rate than wet years.
SOD Blitzes are made possible by the work of local volunteers, along with funding from the PG&E Foundation and the USDA Forest Service, State and Private Forestry.