Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Sarah E. Haas; J. Hall Cushman; Whalen W. Dillon; Nathan E. Rank; David M. Rizzo; Ross K. Meentemeyer
    Date: 2016
    Source: Ecology. 97(3): 649-660
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (178.0 KB)


    The challenges posed by observing host-pathogen-environment interactions across large geographic extents and over meaningful time scales limit our ability to understand and manage wildland epidemics. We conducted a landscape-scale, longitudinal study designed to analyze the dynamics of sudden oak death (an emerging forest disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum) across hierarchical levels of ecological interactions, from individual hosts up to the community and across the broader landscape. From 2004 to 2011, we annually assessed disease status of 732 coast live oak, 271 black oak, and 122 canyon live oak trees in 202 plots across a 275-km2 landscape in central California. The number of infected oak stems steadily increased during the eight-year study period. A survival analysis modeling framework was used to examine which level of ecological heterogeneity best predicted infection risk of susceptible oak species, considering variability at the level of individuals (species identity, stem size), the community (host density, inoculum load, and species richness), and the landscape (seasonal climate variability, habitat connectivity, and topographic gradients). After accounting for unobserved risk shared among oaks in the same plot, survival models incorporating heterogeneity across all three levels better predicted oak infection than did models focusing on only one level. We show that larger oak trees (especially coast live oak) were more susceptible, and that interannual variability in inoculum production by the highly infectious reservoir host, California bay laurel, more strongly influenced disease risk than simply the density of this important host. Concurrently, warmer and wetter rainy-season conditions in consecutive years intensified infection risk, presumably by creating a longer period of inoculum build-up and increased probability of pathogen spillover from bay laurel to oaks. Despite the presence of many alternate host species, we found evidence of pathogen dilution, where less competent hosts in species-rich communities reduce pathogen transmission and overall risk of oak infection. These results identify key parameters driving the dynamics of emerging infectious disease in California woodlands, while demonstrating how multiple levels of ecological heterogeneity jointly determine epidemic trajectories in wildland settings.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Haas, Sarah E.; Cushman, J. Hall; Dillon, Whalen W.; Rank, Nathan Egan; Rizzo, David M.; Meentemeyer, Ross K. 2016. Effects of individual, community and landscape drivers on the dynamics of a wildland forest epidemic. Ecology. 97(3): 649-660.


    Google Scholar


    diversity-disease risk, emerging infectious disease, landscape epidemiology, pathogen spillover, Phytophthora ramorum, sudden oak death, seasonality, survival analysis, time-varying covariate

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page