Creating Forest Monitoring Tools for Early Stress Detection

Research Issue

Dead and dying ponderosa (Pinus ponderosa) and sugar (P. lambertiana) pine on the Hume Lake Ranger District, Sequoia National Forest, California. Credit: USDA Forest Service.One way that trees respond to stressors is by changing their metabolism (the chemical processes needed to maintain life). These responses, which are usually partially or fully reversible, can help keep the plant alive, but they can come at a cost to the plant’s available energy. If a stressor persists, it can eventually kill the plant.
Metabolic stress indicators at the cellular level include amino acids, chlorophyll and pigments such as carotenoids and anthocyanins. Changes to these chemical indicators, along with the variety of stressors in forests today, create a wide range of research opportunities.

Our Research

By identifying and researching metabolic stress indicators in different tree species before, during and after disturbances, Northern Research Station scientists are creating a diagnostic biochemical toolkit for predicting how forest ecosystems will change in response to long-term stressors.

Expected Outcomes

This toolkit and related research may help measure trees’ stress tolerance, determine how different stressors impact specific species, pinpoint high-risk and low-risk areas, and come up with ways to reduce stress in trees and other plants. This research will also provide information to policy-makers regarding the negative impacts of pollution on tree health.

Research Results

Minocha, Rakesh; Turlapati, Swathi A.; Long, Stephanie; McDowell, William H.; Minocha, Subhash C. 2015. Long-term trends of changes in pine and oak foliar nitrogen metabolism in response to chronic nitrogen amendments at Harvard Forest, MA. Tree Physiology, Vol. 35(8): 16 pages.: 894-909.

Turlapati, Swathi A.; Minocha, Rakesh; Long, Stephanie; Ramsdell, Jordan; Minocha, Subhash C. 2015. Oligotyping reveals stronger relationship of organic soil bacterial community structure with N-amendments and soil chemistry in comparison to that of mineral soil at Harvard Forest, MA, USA. Frontiers in Microbiology. 6: 49.

van Diepen, L. T. A.; Frey, S. D.; Sthultz, C. M.; Morrison, E. W.; Minocha, R.; Pringle, A. 2015. Changes in litter quality caused by simulated nitrogen deposition reinforce the N-induced suppression of litter decay. Ecosphere 6:1-16.

Minocha, Rakesh; Majumdar, Rajtilak; Minocha, Subhash C. 2014. Polyamines and abiotic stress in plants: a complex relationship. Frontiers in Plant Science. 5: article 175.

Frey, S. D.; Ollinger, S.; Nadelhoffer, K.; Bowden, R.; Brzostek, E.; Burton, A.; Caldwell, B. A. Crow, S.; Goodale, C. L.; Grandy, A. S.; Finzi, A.; Kramer, M. G.; Lajtha, K.; LeMoine, J.; Martin, M.; McDowell, W. H.; Minocha, R.; Sadowsky, J. J.; Templer, P. H.; Wickings, K. 2014. Chronic nitrogen additions suppress decomposition and sequester soil carbon in temperate forests. Biogeochemistry Letters 121:305-316.

Minocha, Rakesh; Turlapati, Swathi A.; Long, Stephanie; North, Malcolm. 2013. Fuel treatment effects on soil chemistry and foliar physiology of three coniferous species at the Teakettle Experimental Forest, California, USA. Trees. 27: 1101-1113.

Turlapati, Swathi A.; Minocha, Rakesh; Bhiravarasa, Premsai S.; Tisa, Louise S.; Thomas, William K.; Minocha, Subhash C. 2013. Chronic N-amended soils exhibit an altered bacterial community structure in Harvard Forest, MA, USA. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 83: 478-493.

Sridevi, Ganapathi; Minocha, Rakesh; Turlapati, Swathi A.; Goldfarb, Katherine C.; Brodie, Eoin L.; Tisa, Louis S.; Minocha, Subhash C. 2012. Soil bacterial communities of a calcium-supplemented and a reference watershed at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF), New Hampshire, USA. FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 79: 728-740.

Minocha, Rakesh; Long, Stephanie; Thangavel, Palaniswamy; Minocha, Subhash C.; Eagar, Christopher; Driscoll, Charles T. 2010. Elevation dependent sensitivity of northern hardwoods to Ca addition at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH USA. Forest Ecology and Management. 260: 2115-2125.

Thangavel, P.; Long, Stephanie; Minocha, Rakesh 2007. Changes in phytochelatins and their biosynthetic intermediates in red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) cell suspension cultures under cadmium and zinc stress. Plant Cell Tissue Organ Culture. 88: 201-216.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Rakesh Minocha, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Senior Supervisory Plant Physiologist
  • Stephanie Long, US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Biological Sciences Technician and Lab Manager

Research Partners

  • Subhash C. Minocha, University of New Hampshire, Biological Sciences Department
  • Serita Frey, University of New Hampshire, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Malcolm North, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station
  • Gregory Lawrence (Hydrologists), US Geological Survey, Troy, NY
  • Ravinder Kohli, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, Punjab India
  • Heidi Asbjornsen, University of New Hampshire, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Tara Trammell, University of Delaware, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
  • Jeffrey W. Cary, USDA/ARS, Southern Regional Research Center Food and Feed Safety Research Unit
  • Rajtilak Majumdar, USDA/ARS, Southern Regional Research Center Food and Feed Safety Research Unit
  • Ruth Yanai , SUNY Department of Forest and Natural Resource Management
  • Alex Young, SUNY Department of Forest and Natural Resource Management
  • Pamela Templer, Boston University, Biology Department
  • Om Parkash (Dhanker), University of Massachusetts, Department of Plant Biology
  • Jeffery Garnas, University of New Hampshire, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Last modified: September 11, 2018