Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Karen E. Mock


Karen E. Mock


Barbara J. Bentz


James N. Long


The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) is a native bark beetle that attacks and kills most species of pines (Pinus) throughout its range in western North America. Due to the strong relationship between thermal conditions and mountain pine beetle population success, climate change-induced changes in mountain pine beetle outbreaks are a major concern for land managers. Over the past several decades, warmer than average temperatures allowed mountain pine beetle populations to reach epidemic levels across much of the western U.S. and Canada, including high elevations where outbreaks were previously limited by cool temperatures. Many high-elevation pine species experienced extensive mortality in recent outbreaks, but co-occurring Great Basin bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva), the longest-living non-clonal organism, were not attacked.

With the guidance of my committee, my research focused on investigating Great Basin bristlecone pine resistance to mountain pine beetle. Specifically, I compared mountain pine beetle host selection behavior and reproductive success in Great Basin bristlecone pine relative to susceptible host tree species. The results of both studies suggest that Great Basin bristlecone pine is a highly resistant species with low vulnerability to climate-driven increases in mountain pine beetle outbreaks at high elevations. These findings aid forest managers in predicting and managing high-elevation mountain pine beetle impacts and can be applied in future research to ultivate novel tools for forest protection.