Pine beetle a threat to water quality, quantity, as well as trees

Mountain Pine Beetle is well-known for devastating pine forests, but it also poses a potential threat to water quantity and quality, University of Alberta researchers predict.

Poor water quality, brought on by premature snowmelt and increased flow to rivers and streams, will likely be a side effect of the insect’s destruction of lodgepole pine forests, an ongoing U of A study is suggesting.

Researchers Uldis Silins and Ellen Macdonald, professors in the Department of Renewable Resources, simulated Mountain Pine Beetle kill in selected stands of lodgepole in west-central Alberta, to study how much additional water will run off and where it goes, after the trees lose their needles and are no longer able to capture rain or snowfall.