IMPORTANCE OF TREE DISEASES TO THE BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION OF FOREST ECOSYSTEMS
Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA
Background and objectives
On the other hand, introduced pathogens, human-induced changes in forest structure or composition and climatic changes may all lead to the development of catastrophic epidemics. Depending on the ecological importance of the host species, such epidemics may result in minor shifts in community composition or in fundamental changes in ecosystem properties.
Natural forest ecosystems are being lost and fragmented throughout the world, particularly in the tropics. Beyond their intrinsic value, the remaining tropical forests represent important reserves of genetic resources. Wild relatives of numerous important fruit crops are found in tropical forests, as are natural populations of important timber trees. Additionally, the diversity of chemical pest defences found in tropical forest plants may contain keys to novel disease control methods.
In this presentation, I will use examples from tropical and temperate forests to explore the role of tree diseases in regulating host tree spatial distributions and population dynamics, and the influence of diseases on community diversity and forest structure. Then I will look at the importance of incorporating disease processes into strategies for forest conservation.
Results and conclusions
Conservation of unique and diverse forest ecosystems is imperative for myriad reasons; understanding the dynamics and impacts of the diversity of forest diseases is essential to successful conservation efforts.