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Duke Studies Show U.S. Central Plains Vulnerable To Global Warming

Another ESA meeting paper by graduate student Peter Wyckoff and Clark reported the latest advances in an "epidemiological" method Wyckoff developed to predict the death of trees from their growth rates.

"It's usually very difficult, if not impossible, to know why a tree dies," explained Clark. "You can't do an autopsy to figure it out." Nevertheless, he said, predicting tree mortality is extremely important to ecologists studying the complex dynamics of forests. Measuring such mortality is a short-term observation that helps ecologists extrapolate the dynamics of forest tree populations that occur over decades to centuries.

In his paper, Wyckoff reported new techniques of his mathematical method of gauging the probability of a tree's death according to its growth rate, with a lower growth rate indicating a higher risk.

"There are a lot of reasons why a tree can die, ranging from insects to insufficient carbon, but the effects of all of them are summarized by its growth rate," said Clark. "Peter's model is an elegant approach, because you don't need to know what all those things are."


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Contact: Monte Basgall
Monte@dukenews.duke.edu
919-681-8057
Duke University Medical Center
4-Aug-1998


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