Disease Ecology

Forecasting forest recovery

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Science  01 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6281, pp. 49-50
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6281.49-g

Models can help predict what species will replace ash trees lost to disease

PHOTO: © BLICKWINKEL/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Fungal pathogens of trees, particularly of common species, can have pronounced effects on the composition and functioning of the wider forest community. Needham et al. develop a predictive model of the effects of ash dieback, a disease that has recently spread across Europe, on the population dynamics and community structure of the remaining components of a forest community in the United Kingdom. They use demographic data on the current forest community to forecast which species are likely to replace ash (Fraxinus excelsior) after the disease strikes, as it is expected to do within the next few years. The likely beneficiary in this case is sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), which is expected to be in the best position to exploit the resources and space left by the dieback of ash. The modeling approach could be deployed to help predict the course of recovery after other tree diseases, in forests where inventories and demographic time series data have been assembled.

J. Ecol. 104, 315 (2016).

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