4The constant drought in California, that has left many people with very little water and has caused authorities to reduce the amount allowed for irrigation, is now threatening to make other victims. It was recently reported that the giant sequoia, which are extremely old, but very thirsty trees, might die because of the severe drought that affects most parts of the state.
Nate Stephenson, who is a research ecologist working for the U.S. Geological Survey said that the huge sequoia are now almost leafless. He has been studying the massive trees for more than 20 years and is now putting efforts into launching a campaign that might gather funds to help him conduct a study.
In order to do this, he established connections with other experts from the USGS, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory and Stanford University.
Another ecologist, Anthony Ambrose did some fieldwork to investigate just how affected the behemoth trees have been and up to what extent we should start worrying about them.
“There are a lot of trees that are dying, a lot of pines and cedars that have died because of the drought. The giant sequoia seem to be pretty resistant, but we want to know what does it take to kill one of these and what can we learn from this,” he said.
He is planning to analyze about 50 trees which have lost more than three quarters of their leaves and wants to give the data he collects to forest managers, in order to help them prioritize their actions.
Even if there is no clear evidence regarding the impact the drought has on the trees, it is clear that there is something wrong with some of them.
The supposition that the lack of water has affected them stems from the fact that the 30-storeys tall trees usually need a minimum of 500 gallons of water every day.
The lead study author, Koren Nydick, said that only a few of the trees have been impacted by the ongoing drought and the good news is that they are extremely resistant and they can survive many factors, including wildfires, beetles and storms.
In spite of that, Ambrose points out that “every organism has a limit” and “every organism has a threshold beyond which it can’t survive anymore.” Thus, it is of utmost importance that we look deeper into the matter.
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