A new study suggests that Sudden Aspen Decline, which is killing many trees in the Rocky Mountains, is caused by dehydration and drought.
"A mysterious malady has hit Aspen’s namesake trees hard in recent years, killing off nearly one-fifth of Colorado’s aspens, according to statistics from the U.S. Forest Service.
Forest ecologists have struggled to explain the widespread die-off, known as Sudden Aspen Decline (SAD), as it’s taken hold.
A new study from researchers at Stanford University and the University of Utah may provide a breakthrough in understanding SAD and how it kills trees.
The research, led by Stanford Ph.D. candidate William Anderegg, found that aspens have essentially dehydrated due to a drought that took hold of Colorado from 2000 to 2004. In a delayed reaction to the drought, they found, the systems that carry water through aspen stands broke down."