Arquivos de periódicos de setembro 2020

14 de setembro de 2020

Oregon's Native Rhododendrons and Fire

The Native Rhododendrons of Oregon Project was started to record and monitor the distribution of our native rhododendrons. In-light-of climate change it is important to know where they live and see what impacts the changing climate is having on them. The Project is also a chance to monitor pathogens which impact Rhododendrons, like Sudden Oak Death which is not native to the west coast.
For example, the White-flowered Rhododendron is found in a limited area of north-east Oregon but is more common and widespread in the northern Oregon Cascades, where it has been reported on iNaturalist as far south as Bachelor Mountain in Linn County. Around Mount Hood I have found it above 4200 feet, and up to 6,000 feet. There isn’t too much real estate on Mount Hood, or anywhere else in Oregon for that matter, above 6,000 foot elevation. An immediate question is what happens to plants at the lower elevations in their range? Do they die out, especially on the lower elevation mountains they are currently found on? Do they survive in a much-reduced range only around springs, or lakes?
What about the Pacific Rhododendron? It is very common in the northern Oregon Cascades where it can grow in large impenetrable thickets. Why is it so rare north of the Columbia River in Washington State? It is present in Skamania County just to the north, but in widely scattered locations. What factors limited its distribution there? What about Rhododendron columbianum? Why is that plant not found in the Oregon Cascades, but is found on either side in Washington’s Cascades and in California’s Sierra Nevadas?
As summers continue to heat up, and as the fire season continues to lengthen how well will the Rhododendrons recover from the large fires that this season are unfortunately creating havoc all over the west coast? At what point does the environment stop supporting the Rhododendrons? We will only find out by finding them throughout their range and monitoring them.
Late this summer, August 23-25, 2020, we went into eastern Marion County north of Mount Jefferson and spent three days looking, and finding R macrophyllum, albiflorum, and one small population of R menziesii. See:
Since Labor Day weekend when Oregon experienced a rare late summer wind event that was analogous to the Santa Ana winds of southern California. The strong east winds caused existing fires, especially the Lionshead and Beachie Creek fires which were started by lightning strikes, to significantly expand. The Lionshead fire has seriously impacted the entire area we explored just a short time prior.
The continued spread of the Lionshead and other fires can be monitored on such websites as
As depressing as the current conflagration is it will be interesting to monitor the burnt areas and see how Rhododendrons (and other plants) reestablish themselves. One area that can be looked at to see what might happen is the north slope of Mount Hood where three significant fires occurred between 2006 and 2011. I have started photo albums on flickr to record trips taken to areas that were, and now, impacted by wildfires.

Publicado em 14 de setembro de 2020, 11:43 PM por geographerdave geographerdave | 0 comentários | Deixar um comentário