When a new, more aggressive strain of the pathogen that causes sudden oak death turned up in Oregon, scientists and stakeholders banded together to try to protect susceptible trees and the region’s valuable timber industry.
Sudden oak death is a serious threat. Since 1994, the disease has killed millions of trees in California and Oregon. If the disease spreads from an isolated outbreak in Curry County, Oregon, to neighboring Coos County, the impact could be severe: a 15% reduction in timber harvest, loss of 1,200 jobs and about $58 million in lost wages, according to an Oregon Department of Forestry report.
Researchers with North Carolina State University’s Center for Geospatial Analytics reached out to help in Oregon, offering Tangible Landscape, an interactive model that allows people of all skill levels to control complex simulation models with their hands and collaboratively explore scenarios of management decisions.
While predictive models can provide useful forecasts about where the pathogen may go, they can be tough to work with, requiring coding or technical software experience, says Devon Gaydos, lead author of an article in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and an NC State doctoral student.