Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Pages 223-232 in T.L Shore et al. (eds) Mountain Pine Beetle Symposium: Challenges and Solutions, Oct. 30-31, 2003. Kelowna BC. Natural Resources Canada, Infromation Report BC-X-399, Victoria

Publication Date

2003

Abstract

The current latitudinal and elevational range of mountain pine beetle is not limited by available hosts. Instead, its potential to expand north and east has been restricted by climatic conditions unfavorable for brood development. We combined a model of the impact of climatic conditions on the establishment and persistence of mountain pine beetle populations with a spatially explicit, climate-driven simulation tool. Historic weather records were used to produce maps of the distribution of past climatically suitable habitats for mountain pine beetles in British Columbia. Overlays of annual mountain pine beetle occurrence on these maps were used to determine if the beetle has expanded its range in recent years due to changing climate. An examination of the distribution of climatically suitable habitats in 10-year increments derived from climate normals (1921-1950 to 1971-2000) clearly shows and increase in the range of benign habitats. Furthermore, an increase (at an increasing rate) in the number of infestations since 1970 in formally climatically unsuitable habitats indicates that mountain pine beetle populations have expanded into these new areas. Given the rapid colonization by mountain pine beetles of former climatically unsuitable areas during the last several decades, continued warming in western North America associated with climate change will allow the beetle to further expand its range northward, eastward and toward higher elevations.