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Bark Beetles Invading High-Elevation Forests

Jan 2, 2013
(Summit County Citizens Voice)

Bark beetles have already killed millions of acres of mid-elevation forests across the West, and warming temperatures are enabling the tree-killing bugs to invade higher elevations, where they are attacking trees that haven’t evolved with strong defenses to repel them.

Global warming is essentially giving the insects a huge advantage, as the trees, with their long lifespans, have no chance to develop biological resistance, according to researchers from the the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who report a rising threat to the whitebark pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains.

The whitebark pine forest sat treeline provide critical habitat for iconic species such as the grizzly bear and play an important role in governing the hydrology of the mountain west by shading snow and regulating the flow of meltwater.