College hosts free science presentation on tree survival and the ‘mega-drought’ |

College hosts free science presentation on tree survival and the ‘mega-drought’

Submitted by Diane Wright

A special presentation, “Sierra Conifers and the Mega-drought: How do Trees Survive?” is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 at the Nevada County campus of Sierra College. The event is free and open to the public.

The California drought of 2012–2016 was more severe than any observed in the previous 500 years, leaving an estimated 100 million dead trees in the Sierra Nevada. Bark beetle outbreaks and intense drought represent both direct and interactive stresses to forest trees, but building defenses for one stress may not leave enough resources for defense against the other. What strategies do trees use to survive? Can we improve the success of these strategies?

In this presentation, Jeff Lauder will discuss why understanding how trees die isn’t as simple as we would think. Individual wood cells can tell the story of how each tree lived or died in response to one of the largest tree mortality events — and what we can do to help.

Lauder is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Merced, where he studies drought responses of Sierra Nevada conifers. Lauder combines the study of tree rings, how trees adapt their physiology to environmental conditions, and general forest ecology. He seeks to understand how and why Sierra Nevada trees succumb to drought and also how they survive.

His research focuses on how trees modify their anatomy, from the cell to the whole stem, to resist or recover from intense drought and bark beetle outbreaks. He examines how entire forests respond to climate locally and regionally to predict how climatic patterns may influence forest health.

Prior to his graduate studies, he worked with Sierra Streams Institute on projects including mine waste remediation, forest management and aquatic ecosystem response to restoration.

The Nevada County Campus is located at 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley. Talks are in the Multipurpose Center building N-12.

Parking is $3. Permits can be purchased at the kiosk machine at the main entrance to the campus.

For more information, contact series coordinator Jason Giuliani at

Source: Sierra College District

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