Dr. Richard Jagels, Professor Emeritus, UMaine School of Forest Resources
Tall-Tree Forests: Bioengineering Marvels. What is Their Future?
hosted by Víctor Ortega-Jiménez
Based on land area, the world’s tallest forests contain the highest biomass, store the most carbon, have the greatest influence on climate, trap the most aerosol pollutants, and host an immense volume of biodiversity. By extracting global mechanical wood test results and examining wood anatomical features it is possible to assess how some trees have achieved heights of greater than 100 meters while maintaining a columnar form, a feat only achieved by skyscraper engineers in recent decades. Since the tallest trees do not exist in isolation, we will examine the dynamics of these tall-tree forests globally with particular focus on competition versus cooperation, and examine the possibility that the tallest trees have a climate ‘sweet spot’. Finally, we will explore the possibility that some tall tree forests may be shorter than they once were – and offer predictions for the future of forest titans in the current era of rapid climate change.
Richard Jagels, UM Emeritus Professor of Forest Biology, earned a B.S. in Wood Anatomy and an M.S in Forest Pathology from SUNY-ESF, and a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Illinois. He has held academic positions at the University of Alberta, University of Vermont, Dartmouth College, Louisiana State University and, finally, the University of Maine, where he served for 31 years, retiring in 2010. His research interests have spanned the plant world from mosses and lower vascular plants to seagrasses, but he has focused on tree biomechanics for the past 30 years. In addition to an academic career, he has written a Wood Technology column for WoodenBoat magazine for 45 years, and is currently serving as museum director at the Resource Center, Craig Brook Fish Hatchery, in East Orland.