First Advisor

Geoffrey Duh

Term of Graduation

Fall 2021

Date of Publication

11-9-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography

Department

Geography

Language

English

DOI

10.15760/etd.7745

Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 67 pages)

Abstract

Climate change is projected to bring more frequent and prolonged droughts, causing widespread forest die-off. Identifying tree mortality over large spatial extents in response to the most recent California drought will help forest managers and conservationists understand where there may be a greater likelihood of future die-offs. In order to find more at-risk areas, this study evaluated how interacting site-specific topographic, climate, substrate, and stand characteristics mediated tree mortality in the Central Sierra Nevada during the 2012-2016 drought. The author used lidar and hyperspectral imagery provided by the National Ecological Observatory Network to identify individual dead trees using the Random Forest classification method and created a Random Forest Regression model to assess site-specific environmental variables that had a greater influence on tree mortality. The results show that the most influential variables were tree height, density, and elevation. Results also found higher mortality rates in pines and oaks, meaning further widespread die-off of these trees could reduce forest productivity, increase fire hazard risk, and drive a shift in community composition over the long-term. This study provides a finer resolution mapping of tree mortality over the research area than was reported by the USFS Aerial Detection Survey. Due to the confounding evidence regarding the relative influence of environmental factors on tree mortality during droughts, these results provide robust information to help maintain these changing forests in a climate-informed manner. Because this study is site-specific, more research is needed to assess how environmental factors mediate drought-induced mortality in other regions also projected to have more intense droughts as a result of climate change.

Rights

In Copyright. URI: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/ This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/36919

Included in

Geography Commons

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