Southern CA oaks

Research Project | 2024

Hydraulic function and carbon metabolism of three southern California oak species

Awardee: Anna Ongjoco

Anna is a Ph.D student, co-advised by Dr. Elsa Ordway at UCLA and Dr. Leander Anderegg at
UCSB. She received an M.S. and a B.S. in Biological Science at Cal Poly Pomona, where she
studied the ecophysiology of two native pine species in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Currently, her work focuses on understanding the water-use strategies of three California native
oak species and how they will respond to more frequent and intense droughts. Anna aims to
advance the understanding of the coordination of hydraulic function and carbon metabolism to
shed light on the physiological mechanisms that underpin drought induced mortality.

Large scale, drought induced tree mortality is on the rise globally as a result of diminished water
availability and increasing temperatures. In Mediterranean ecosystems like southern California,
oaks are the dominant genus, making their vulnerability to drought-driven mortality an
ecological unknown. This project will be comparing three different oak species (valley oak, coast
live oak, and blue oak) along different sites at Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Barbara County to
understand how they differ in carbon and water uptake. This will give us a better understanding
of how these oaks will respond to disturbances due to climate change.