The montane mixed-conifer forests of San Diego County are currently experiencing extensive tree mortality, which is defined as dieback where whole stands are affected. This mortality is likely the result of the complex interaction of many variables, such as altered fire regimes, climatic conditions such as drought, as well as forest pathogens and past management strategies. Conifer tree mortality and its spatial pattern and change over time were examined in three components. In component 1, two remote sensing approaches were compared for their effectiveness in delineating dead trees, a spatial contextual approach and an OBIA (object based image analysis) approach, utilizing various dates and spatial resolutions of airborne image data. For each approach transforms and masking techniques were explored, which were found to improve classifications, and an object-based assessment approach was tested. In component 2, dead tree maps produced by the most effective techniques derived from component 1 were utilized for point pattern and vector analyses to further understand spatio-temporal changes in tree mortality for the years 1997, 2000, 2002, and 2005 for three study areas: Palomar, Volcan and Laguna mountains. Plot-based fieldwork was conducted to further assess mortality patterns. Results indicate that conifer mortality was significantly clustered, increased substantially between 2002 and 2005, and was non-random with respect to tree species and diameter class sizes. In component 3, multiple environmental variables were used in Generalized Linear Model (GLM - logistic regression) and decision tree classifier model development, revealing the importance of climate and topographic factors such as precipitation and elevation, in being able to predict areas of high risk for tree mortality. The results from this study highlight the importance of multi-scale spatial as well as temporal analyses, in order to understand mixed-conifer forest structure, dynamics, and processes of decline, which can lead to more sustainable management of forests with continued natural and anthropogenic disturbance.