Event Title

Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Collapse in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Fiction Or Fact?

Event Website

http://www.nafew2009.org/

Start Date

6-22-2009 2:10 PM

End Date

6-22-2009 2:30 PM

Description

Widespread outbreaks of mountain pine beetles (MPB) are occurring throughout the range of this native insect. Mountain pine beetles are among a small group of so called aggressive bark beetles that must kill its host to successfully reproduce, and episodic outbreaks of this insect are truly impressive events where otherwise healthy trees are killed in large numbers. Periodic outbreaks of mountain pine beetles are a common occurrence in its major pine host, lodgepole pine, an r-selected species that is highly resilient to MPB disturbance. The current outbreaks are unusual in several respects, including the occurrence in habitats where previously outbreaks either did not occur, or were limited in scale. In this presentation, we address widespread outbreaks that are ongoing in high-elevation, whitebark pine where, due to an inhospitable habitat, past outbreaks were infrequent and short-lived. Unlike lodgepole pine, whitebark pine is a strongly K-selected species with unknown resilience to mountain pine beetle. In this presentation, we address the basic question: are these outbreaks in whitebark pine truly unprecedented and a threat to continuation of this important ecosystem, or are they simply a case of disturbance leading forest renewal? In particular, we address widespread outbreaks that are occurring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, an U. N. World Heritage Site where whitebark pine plays an essential role in maintaining the unique characteristics of this largely intact ecosystem. We apply the principles of disturbance ecology to evaluate this question. Namely, we consider the historic range of variability, system resiliency to MPB disturbance and the domain of attraction of whitebark pine ecosystems to large-scale MPB disturbance. We conclude loss of ecological functionality in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is almost certain with the projected climate trajectory of global warming, and long-term loss of the climax whitebark pine forests is a finite possibility.

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Jun 22nd, 2:10 PM Jun 22nd, 2:30 PM

Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Collapse in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Fiction Or Fact?

Widespread outbreaks of mountain pine beetles (MPB) are occurring throughout the range of this native insect. Mountain pine beetles are among a small group of so called aggressive bark beetles that must kill its host to successfully reproduce, and episodic outbreaks of this insect are truly impressive events where otherwise healthy trees are killed in large numbers. Periodic outbreaks of mountain pine beetles are a common occurrence in its major pine host, lodgepole pine, an r-selected species that is highly resilient to MPB disturbance. The current outbreaks are unusual in several respects, including the occurrence in habitats where previously outbreaks either did not occur, or were limited in scale. In this presentation, we address widespread outbreaks that are ongoing in high-elevation, whitebark pine where, due to an inhospitable habitat, past outbreaks were infrequent and short-lived. Unlike lodgepole pine, whitebark pine is a strongly K-selected species with unknown resilience to mountain pine beetle. In this presentation, we address the basic question: are these outbreaks in whitebark pine truly unprecedented and a threat to continuation of this important ecosystem, or are they simply a case of disturbance leading forest renewal? In particular, we address widespread outbreaks that are occurring in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, an U. N. World Heritage Site where whitebark pine plays an essential role in maintaining the unique characteristics of this largely intact ecosystem. We apply the principles of disturbance ecology to evaluate this question. Namely, we consider the historic range of variability, system resiliency to MPB disturbance and the domain of attraction of whitebark pine ecosystems to large-scale MPB disturbance. We conclude loss of ecological functionality in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is almost certain with the projected climate trajectory of global warming, and long-term loss of the climax whitebark pine forests is a finite possibility.

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nafecology/sessions/whitebark/6