The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune quote Daniel Simberloff in stories about a disease that has killed more than one million oak and tanoak trees in coastal California. Recent research suggests that although the pandemic could have been halted more than a decade ago, that can’t happen now because the disease is too entrenched. The study’s authors as well as other scientists caution, however, that while there may be no way to eradicate the disease, it doesn’t mean people should despair or stop trying to fight it because a lot of forest can still be protected and saved.
“If we do something now, aggressively, there will probably be oaks and tanoaks for a long time in specific areas, where by one way or another, they mobilize the effort to eliminate hosts, and especially diseased, individuals,” Simberloff told the Washington Post. He added that there’s a broader lesson here — we need to catch invasive species much faster and fight them much harder early on, before they reach the extent seen in the case of sudden oak death. But, still, that doesn’t mean actions now are futile. Read the Washington Post story online.
Simberloff, an expert on invasive species, is the Gore Hunger Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.