WRA Botanist Joins Plant Pathogen Working Group

Tanner Harris, Senior Biologist at WRA, has joined a committee of restoration practitioners that is part of the “Working Group for Phytophthoras in Native Plant Habitats”. Phytopthora, which means “plant destroyer”, is a large group of fungus-like water molds that can cause severe dieback in natural plant populations. Perhaps the most well-known Phytophthora species is P. ramorum, which causes sudden oak death; however, over 30 different species of Phytophthora have been documented in California and new species are being found at disturbing rates. These plant pathogens have been detected in many California native plant nurseries and at a range of habitat restoration sites. Recently, several major public restoration projects have had costly setbacks resulting from the use of infected nursery stock.

Click here to read more about these projects in a recent edition of Bay Nature magazine.

Left: P. ramorum micrograph; Middle: Live Oak canker; Right: Aerial of infestation in the Santa Cruz mountains. Photos courtesy of www.suddenoakdeath.org

Left: P. ramorum micrograph; Middle: Live Oak canker; Right: Aerial of infestation in the Santa Cruz mountains. Photos courtesy of www.suddenoakdeath.org

This committee consists of a variety of stakeholders involved in restoration efforts in California— including environmental consultants, native plant nurseries, restoration contractors, land managers, academics, and regulators — focusing on the severe threats that this group of plant diseases poses to native habitats throughout California. Cooperatively, the committee members will focus on:

  • Identifying actions to prevent the spread of Phytophthora based on current research and restoration practices;
  • Improving communication and awareness; and
  • Training restoration practitioners in best management practices.

Please contact Tanner for more information on the committee or for more information on WRA’s biological and restoration expertise.