By Matthew Hochkammer

Pilot Staff Writer

Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service is looking for citizen scientists to help collect data on Phytophthora ramorum, a non-native pathogen that causes sudden oak death in Curry County.

Data collection consists of placing bait consisting of uncontaminated tanoak and rhododendron leaves harvested from outside the contamination zone. The bait is placed underneath seemingly healthy tanoaks or in streams.

Alternatively, citizen scientists can use the TreeSnap app, which is available in both the App Store and Google Play, to take pictures of healthy tanoak trees so they can be investigated further to determine their potential genetic resistance to sudden oak death.

The workshop, to be held May 13 at 5:30 p.m., will inform citizens on the data gathering process in addition to answering questions about the status of the project and the disease itself.

“There are three methods we use to collect data on sudden oak death,” OSU assistant professor Norma Kline said.

The first, is bucket baiting; the second, stream baiting; and the third comes from the TreeSnap app.

“The sudden oak death causing pathogen’s spores are spread through wind and water,” Kline said.

Because spores are transported by wind and water, bait buckets can be placed underneath a tanoak tree and then tested for the pathogen’s spores to determine if that specific tree is infected. Similarly, by using the stream bucket method, scientists are able to determine the presence of an infected tree upstream. When used in tandem, scientists can approximate and eventually locate infected trees.

Once an infected tree is positively identified, Oregon Department of Forestry Sudden Oak Death Forester, Randy Wiese said, the tree, and all other tanoaks within a 300 foot radius are cut down and burned.

“The main protection we have against spreading the spores (when trees are being cut down) is the 300 foot radius,” Weiss said.

In addition to identifying diseased trees, researchers also hope to find, breed and introduce disease resistant trees to replace them. Identification begins with users of the TreeSnap app taking pictures of healthy looking trees that researchers will later investigate and collect acorns from.

For more information on this citizen science initiative, contact the Coos/Curry OSU extension office at (541) 572-5263.

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