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World’s oldest tree species resistant to mountain pine beetle

Mountain pine beetles, a native insect to western North America, have killed millions of trees in the last decade. Warming temperatures associated with climate change have fueled population outbreaks across western North America and caused range expansion northward in Canada and are also fueling extensive outbreaks in high-elevation forests. These outbreaks in iconic high-elevation whitebark and limber pine forests have scientists worried about other high-elevation pines, including Great Basin bristlecone pine.

Understanding resistance mechanisms in these trees will help facilitate the conservation of high-elevation keystone species and development of novel strategies for protection of other pine species from mountain pine beetle attacks. The following photos were taken by RMRS Barbara Bentz in the Great Basin area as she researched the effects of mountain pine beetles on bristlecone pines.

To learn more about this topic, see the project page for Vulnerability of Great Basin bristlecone pine to mountain pine beetle and the Science Spotlight World’s oldest tree species resistant to mountain pine beetle.

(Click on an image to see it in full view.)