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Last modified 08/29/2005

by: Kevin T. Smith

Tree response to injury, infection, and change

Research Work Unit 4505 Photo Montage


Mission: To improve rural and urban forests through concepts, tools, and practices based on  the biological response of trees to disease and disturbance.


Forests are more than trees, but trees are the defining characteristics of forests. Research project NE-4505 focuses on how trees respond to injury, infection, and environmental change. Mechanical injuries from fire, storms, and human activities and their resulting infections can be obvious. Less obvious, but potentially as severe, are changes in the chemical environment of forests due to the deposition of atmospheric pollutants and the retention or removal of coarse woody debris.

Tree response to injury, infection, and environmental change is based on dynamic changes in tree form and function. These changes in trees provide the resilience to disturbance that is the foundation of healthy forests.

Recent and current studies include investigations of:

1. Recovery of surviving trees following the northeastern regional ice storm of January 1998;
2. The role of compartmentalization in survival of trees injured by fire;
3. The effects of stress on the physiology of nitrogen compounds (e.g. polyamines and amino acids), organic acids, and phytochelatins in tree cells;
4. The role of the wood decay process in replenishing essential elements to forest soils.

Research Work Unit 4505 Photo Montage