Los Alamos, NM (December 24, 2012) – Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory are looking to understand the mechanisms that lead to tree death, and how warmer temperatures, drought, insects, and other stressors play a role. Why do some trees live under stressful conditions and others succumb? The goal is to understanding the incremental steps that lead to tree mortality and help save trees in the future.
The experiments with pinyon and juniper trees began in June. Staff scientists have set up an intensive monitoring system to find out precisely how trees die. Each tree is hooked up to various sensors and probes to monitor “vital signs.” Then they artificially create various conditions, such as raising temperatures or reducing water, and document what happens inside the workings of the tree. This is followed by conducting a post mortem.
The theory is that trees are likely either dying of thirst or starving to death, but understanding if that is the case and how that is happening is what they hope their experiments will help to reveal. So far, evidence is proving consistent with their theory.
Read the full New York Times article about this research, “As Forests Disappear, Examining the Mechanisms of Their Death”
An Arbor Embolism? Why Trees Die in Drought