Non-native diseases of dominant tree species have diminished North American forest biodiversity, structure, and ecosystem function over the last 150 years. Since the mid-1990s, coastal California forests have suffered extensive decline of the endemic overstory tree tanoak, Notholithocarpus densiflorus (Hook. & Arn.) Manos, Cannon & S. H. Oh (Fagaceae), following the emergence of the exotic pathogen Phythophthora ramorum and the resulting disease sudden oak death. There are two central challenges to protecting tanoak: 1) the pathogen P. ramorum has multiple pathways of spread and is thus very difficult to eradicate, and 2) the low economic valuation of tanoak obscures the cultural and ecological importance of this species. However, both modeling and field studies have shown that pathogen-centric management and host-centric preventative treatments are effective methods to reduce rates of spread, local pathogen prevalence, and to increase protection of individual trees. These management strategies are not mutually exclusive, but we lack precise understanding of the timing and extent to apply each strategy in order to minimize disease and the subsequent accumulation of fuels, loss of obligate flora and fauna, or destruction of culturally important stands. Recent work identifying heritable disease resistance traits, ameliorative treatments that reduce pathogen populations, and silvicultural treatments that shift stand composition hold promise for increasing the resiliency of tanoak populations. We suggest distinct strategies for pathogen invaded and uninvaded areas, place these in the context of local management goals, and suggest a management strategy and associated research priorities to retain the biodiversity and cultural values associated with tanoak.
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Vol. 60 • No. 2