SOD-Oak-bleedingAn Oak with SOD caused bleedingSOD-sporangiaSOD sporangia

SOD Blitzes reach the ten-year mark.
Volunteer help in the fight against Sudden Oak Death deemed crucial in 2016

The above average rainfall levels officially make 2016 a year in which Sudden Oak Death (SOD) may spread dramatically. This comes after 4 years of very limited spread of the disease, due to drought conditions. Despite the drought, we did observe some new outbreaks in 2015, suggesting that in 2016 we will witness many more. SOD is present on over 500 miles of coastal forests, hence the help of volunteers to survey such a large region is absolutely necessary. SOD blitzes are volunteer-run surveys, now in their 10th year. These events are made possible thanks to funding by the PG&E Foundation and the US Forest Service, State and Private Forestry. In the past decade, SOD blitzes have identified a number of new infestations larger than those identified by any other survey. In addition to this major contribution, the best predictive model on SOD spread has been generated thanks to data collected by volunteers – SODBlitz Report.

The report that a second groups of strains, genetically quite distinct from the one currently present in California has been found in Oregon, has heightened the need to monitor California SOD outbreaks. Volunteers make these intensive surveys possible, and, additionally, it has been shown that volunteers participating in SOD blitzes are ten times more likely to actively manage their properties to slow down the spread of SOD. While some preventive treatments against SOD have been shown to work, a cure is not available hence preventing infection in areas where the disease has just arrived remains the key process. Intensive surveys are necessary to achieve this result. Thanks to the intensive surveys and massive datasets generated by the volunteers during the yearly SOD blitzes, two tools are available to learn about the presence or absence of the disease in a large, and ever increasing number of neighborhoods.
One of these tools is web-based and is called SODmap
, while the other is a free App, available both on the Apple store and Google Play, called SODmap mobile.
SODmap mobile can calculate the risk of oak infection by the SOD pathogen in the physical location in which the App user is standing. We urge all concerned citizens to participate in the SOD blitzes to maintain a vigilant eye on this lethal threat to four native oak species and to the related tanoak. All volunteers need to participate in a one hour long training, where they will receive all instructions and materials necessary for the survey. Just bring your phone, possibly with the App SODmap mobile already installed. Most volunteers then go and survey their properties or public land for a couple of hours. For a list of training events and community meetings go to
www.sodblitz.org . There are SOD blitzes throughout the State: most of them are in April and May so go to the SOD blitz website and find the SOD Blitz closest to you: the southernmost blitz will be in San Luis Obispo and the Northenmost in Mendocino. SOD blitzes are crucial to monitor the spread of the disease and to provide essential data to keep “SODmap” and “SODmap mobile” updated and useful. While a few hundred people usually participate in the SOD Blitzes, the data these few hundred people generate is used by hundreds of thousands, making the SOD Blitzes one of the most useful end consequential citizen science programs in the country.

Click SOD blitzes for a detailed list.

Marin meeting location:
Joseph R. Fink Science Center, Rm 103, Dominican University, San Rafael (1 hour presentation).
Next meeting, April 23rd, 2016, starting at 10:00 AM

For more information, write Wolfgang Schweigkofler