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Acute Oak Decline (AOD) is damaging thousands of native oaks in the UK. The extent to which trees must be weakened or “predisposed” before they develop AOD symptoms is unknown. The role of the two spotted oak buprestid Agrilus biguttatus, a beetle strongly associated with the syndrome, also remains unclear. Using tree ring measurements (dendrochronology) and stable isotope analysis, the research aims to examine the stem growth and tree health histories of Acute Oak Decline (AOD)-affected trees, to look for evidence of predisposition to AOD, the impact of AOD on recent growth, and correlation with A. biguttatus attack.

Research objectives

Using tree ring measurements (dendrochronology):

  • Look for evidence of predisposition / weakening in the stem growth record before the trees developed AOD symptoms
  • analyse the relationship between the beetle and observed stem growth patterns
  • determine the impact of AOD on recent stem growth

Using stable isotope analysis:

  • investigate the past water use and historic carbon status of healthy and AOD affected trees
  • correlate the historic health of the trees with AOD symptom onset and A. biguttatus colonisation

Related research

The lifecycle of Agrilus biguttatus: the role of temperature in its development and distribution, and implications for Acute Oak Decline 

Acute Oak Decline

Funding & partners
  • The research is funded by Woodland Heritage and the Woodland Trust.
  • The stable isotope analysis is being conducted in association with the Tree Ring Research Group at Swansea University.
Forestry Staff Screenshot pic 002.d0e4c5ee.fill 600x600 1
Katy Reed

Research Entomologist