For Educators

Order Products

Login / My Account


Moving Spore-adically: The Spread of Sudden Oak Death in California Forests

This article is from Issue Invasive Species - Vol. 8 No. 1.

* Note: All editions of the Natural Inquirer starting with Volume 5 and including future editions require the newest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 in order to be downloaded. We have upgraded in order to ensure greater accessibility to PDF files. Please click on the following link if you need to upgrade your Adobe Acrobat reader: Upgrade now to Adobe Reader 6.0. It is a free upgrade.

Sudden oak death is a new disease of trees and plants in the United States and Europe. Although scientists are not certain, they believe the fungus-like organism that causes sudden oak death was brought into the United States from another country. In this study, the scientists wanted to learn how the organism that causes sudden oak death is spread from tree to tree within a forest.

Welcome to the Invasive Species edition

Note to Educators

Invasive Species Lesson Plan

Student Notes Page

Reflection Section Answer Guide

Education Standards Correlations


Additional Resources for this Article:
Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:

"Science Topics" covered in this article:
  • Life Science
  • People and Science

"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
  • Forest and Grassland Use (Educators)
  • Growing and Using Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • Importance of Forest to People (Students)
  • Protecting Trees and Other Plants (Students)
  • The Value of Forests and Grasslands (Educators)
  • Using Forests (Students)
  • Vegetation Management (Educators)

Regions covered in this article:
  • Alaska
  • Forest Products Lab
  • Intermountain
  • International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  • Northern
  • Pacific Northwest
  • Pacific Southwest
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Southern
  • Southwestern

"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
When scientists prepare to study something, they do as much research about the topic as possible before designing their study. That way, they will be more successful at asking the right questions and finding the clearest answers. In this study, the scientists studied the organism that causes sudden oak death. They found that the organism is like a fungus. Therefore, they learned everything they could about how fungi spread from place to place. By understanding how fungi spread from place to place, they were able to look for a similar process in the organism that causes sudden oak death.
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:
  • Characteristics of Scientists
  • The Scientific Process

"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
When homeowners create gardens or do landscaping around their homes, they often use plants that are not native to the area in which they live. These nonnative plants are often transported from country to country, and across the country from nursery to nursery. When a plant is infected with a disease, it is not just the plant that is transported from nursery to nursery. Sometimes, these plants and diseases escape into the natural environment, where they become disruptive to the natural ecosystem. You can see that although we usually think of plants as not being mobile, their reproduction and transport by humans allows them to spread from place to place. If a plant has a disease, the disease can spread as well.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:
  • Disease
  • Ecosystems

NSE Standards covered in this article:
  • Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry (A)
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms (C)
  • Nature of science (G)
  • Populations and ecosystems (C)
  • Regulation and behavior (C)
  • Risks and benefits (F)
  • Science and technology in society (F)
  • Science as a human endeavor (G)
  • Understandings about scientific inquiry (A)