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College of Natural Resources (UC Berkeley)

The study found that although trees within 5 meters of each other (like these here) were more likely to be clones than trees farther away, they weren’t always. Photo by Jason Hollinger, Flickr Creative Commons

Some Coast Redwoods May Seem to Be Clones, but They’re Not

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If you’ve visited a coast redwood forest, you’ve probably seen these trees growing around the stump of a logged giant. These “fairy rings,” as they’re known informally, show how the coast redwood reproduces asexually by sending new sprouts up from the trunk base of a parent redwood. The mystery was whether these sprouts are genetically identical copies of the parent redwood. Because 95 percent of the current coast redwood range is younger forests, understanding the genetics of the coast redwood is critical for conservation and restoration. Learn more about this research.

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Sudden oak death killed a tanoak stand creating an opening in this forest. Tanoak plays an important ecological role in the redwood forest. Photo by Benjamin Ramage

Tanoak Decline in Redwood Forests

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Tanoak (Notholithocarpus densiflorus) grows in coastal forests in Oregon and California. Compared with the majestic redwood, it’s scruffy and small. But this humble hardwood plays an important ecological role in the redwood forest ecosystem. Its medium-height trees add a second canopy to the complex architecture of an old-growth redwood forest, creating more niches for diverse species. And its nutritious acorns feed bear, deer, rodents and birds. Learn more about this research.

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In Mill Creek forest, tree removal experiments explored how to bring old-forest features (such as giant redwoods and diverse plants and animals) to young forests like this one as quickly as possible. Photo by Kevin L. O'Hara

Forest Restoration through Thinning

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For more than half a century, the Mill Creek region in Northern California produced lumber. After clear-cutting, too many seeds were planted, producing a forest in which too many young trees competed for light, water and other resources. Now, thanks to Save the Redwoods League, Mill Creek is protected as part of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and is becoming a laboratory for redwood forest restoration. Learn more about this research.

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