Tree Susceptibility to Insect-Driven Disturbance

Date August 2009 - present
Contact Sharon Billings
Location Ozark Mountains


Climate models predict that disturbances for North American forests will likely be more frequent and intense as a result of anthropogenic climate change. A recent outbreak of a native insect, the red oak borer, in the forests of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri serves as a model for studying why some trees succumb to disturbances while others appear to remain healthy. Using a dendrochronological approach, we are examining patterns of tree growth in the decades prior to a destructive insect outbreak in these forests, in northern red oak trees that experienced mortality and those that survived. We also are collaborating with Dr. Sarah Glaser to incorporate the use of nonlinear forecasting models to better understand these forests’ responses to disturbance. Carbon and oxygen isotopes in these tree rings provide additional, valuable information about tree carbon and water relations.


Sharon Billings