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US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Rick G. Kelsey

Research Forester
PNW Research Station
Corvallis, OR 97331
Phone: 541-750-7368


Current Research

ARRA Project Titled: Managing Fuel Loads by Limiting Mortality Caused by Bark Beetles and Sudden Oak Death.

The goal of this project is to investigate the use of various types of semiochemicals that are components of conifer resins, or heartwood tissues, for use in mitigating rates of tree mortality and subsequent fuel loading. Emphasis will be placed on reducing the rates of oak mortality from sudden oak death by using semiochemicals to minimize the attacks of bark and ambrosia beetles known to accelerated the death of infected trees. Additional studies will focus on preventing, or delaying host infection from Phytophthora ramorum with the aid of antimicrobial compounds from conifer heartwoods, as another potential approach for slowing mortality and fuel accumulation.

Research Interests

Chemical mediated interactions among plants and animals in forest and rangeland ecosystems.

Basic knowledge of the biological and physical interactions among disturbances (insects, diseases, fire, storms, invasives, herbivory, management and climate variablity), particularly those that have a synergistic interaction resulting in undesirable changes in forest ecosystems.

How disturbances influence the interactions among trees, insects, and pathogens.

Understanding the role of ethanol in  the interactions of bark beetles, pathogens, and their host trees.

Delaying mortality of diseased oaks by mitigating bark and ambrosia beetle attacks.

Predicting Port-Orford-cedar resistance to Phytophthora lateralis using branch bark chemical biomarkers.

Past Research

See list of most recent publications

Why This Research is Important

The biotic and abiotic environments surrounding trees are always changing, and if these events are of sufficient length or magnitude to stress the trees they are considered disturbances. High intensity, low frequency events such as fire, wind storms, insect outbreaks, and etc. cause acute stress that result in rapid and extensive tree injury or mortality. Low intensity, but more frequent events such as drought, disease, or endemic insect populations may cause chronic stress. When tree vigor is reduced from a single disturbance agent, they become more susceptible to other stressors. For example, trees stressed by drought are more susceptible to attack by insect and disease, and vice versa. The mechanisms and critical threshold linking multiple stressors, the trees responses, and the best management practices to increase the trees resilience are not clearly understood. Some of my studies are examining the interactions between insects, pathogens and their host trees, with or without additional stressors.

Since trees are immobile, long lived organisms they must obtain all of their life sustaining resources from their immediate surroundings to maintain, repair, or protect existing tissues, or grow new tissues. They have developed complex mechanical and chemical systems to minimize damage from insects, pathogens, and mammalian herbivores. Common classes of defensive compounds include phenolics, terpenoids, and alkaloids that can function as constitutive or induced defenses. Constitutive chemicals are synthesized during tissue development and often stored in a concentrated form that can be released in the initial stage of an invaders attack. Induced chemicals are not synthesized until after an attack begins, in response to mechanical damage or some other detection mechanism. The composition and quantities of the constitutive and induced chemical defense can vary tremendous among tree species, and with various intensities of stress. Physiological changes in response to stress may also induce trees to produce various volatile compounds that do not function in defense, but can serve as a stress signal that attracts bark or ambrosia beetles, and may enhance the growth of pathogens. Thus, improving our knowledge of how trees respond physiologically and phenologically to stress from disturbance(s) will provide useful information needed to improve the detection and monitoring of stressed trees and also help develop improved methods to manage their vulnerability to insects, pathogens, and other interacting disturbances. This information will also have value for selecting and breeding trees with greater resistance to disturbance agents.

Education

  • University of Montana, Ph.D Forestry, 1975
  • University of Montana, B.S. Forestry, 1970

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Highlights

HighlightTitleYear


PNW-2013-109
Scientists Uncover New Information About Tree Resistance to Sudden Oak Death

Sterols and tannins in host tree tissues influence the growth and sporulation of sudden oak death pathogen.

2013


Last updated on : 05/15/2014