- Phytophthora lateralis is the causal agent of cedar root rot, a fatal forest pathogen whose principal host is Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Port-Orford-cedar), a predominantly riparian-restricted endemic tree species of ecological, economical, and cultural importance to coastal Oregon and California. Local scale distribution of P. lateralis is thought to be associated with timber harvest and road-building disturbances. However, knowledge of the landscape-scale factors that contribute to successful invasions of P. lateralis is also important for effective land management of Port-Orford-cedar. P. lateralis is able to infest in wet conditions via stream networks (zoospore) and dry conditions via road networks (resting spore). This study tested the hypothesis that vehicles spread P. lateralis by relating its distribution to traffic intensive, anthropogenic disturbances (i.e. a road network, timber harvest) over a 31-yr period in a 3,910-km² portion of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in the Siskiyou Mountains of Oregon. Indices of road disturbance (presence/absence, configuration, length, density, road-stream network connectivity) and timber harvest (presence/absence, area, density, frequency) were related to locations of infested cedar populations from a USFS survey dataset using a geographic information system (GIS). About 40% of 934 7th-field catchments were infested with the pathogen. Total road length of the study site was 5,070 km; maximum road density was 8.2 km/km2 and averaged 1.6 km/km² in roaded catchments (n = 766). Timber activities extracted 17,370 ha (2,338 cutting units) of forest across 509 catchments; 345 catchments were cut ≥ twice. Maximum harvest density was 0.92 km²/km² ([mean] = 0.04). Both road networks and timber harvest patchworks were significantly
related to cedar root rot heterogeneity. Chi-squared contingency tables showed that infestation rates were 2.2 times higher in catchments with roads compared to roadless catchments and 1.4 times higher in catchments with road-stream intersections compared to those that were unconnected. Infestation was twice as likely in catchments with both harvest and road presence than road presence alone. Single-variable logistic regression showed that a one percent increase in harvest density increased infestation odds 25% and a one-unit (km/km²) increase in road density increased infestation odds 80%. Road and stream network configuration was also important to pathogen distribution: 1) uninfested catchments are most likely to be spatially removed from infested, roaded catchments, 2) only 11% of 287 roaded catchments downstream of infested, roaded catchments were uninfested, and 3) only 12% of 319 catchments downstream of infested catchments were uninfested. Road networks and timber harvest patchworks appear to reduce landscape heterogeneity by providing up-catchment and down-catchment access to host populations by linking pathogenic materials to the stream network. Timber harvest data suggest that while infestation risk to Port-Orford-cedar populations remains high, management policies may have curbed infestation risk in timber-harvested catchments; if this is a result of specific P. lateralis mitigation policies adopted in the late 1980's or broader, region-wide conservation policies (i.e. the Northwest Forest Plan) is yet unclear.