2011-03-01

Global warming: Lodgepole pine may be down — and out

Lodgepole pines may not only be down from the pinebeetle epidemic, it may be out, thanks to global warming, which is rapidly shrinking suitable habitat for the iconic Western tree.

The hardy pine, which thrives in harsh mountain climates, may disappear from most of the Pacific Northwest by 2080 and is likely to survive in only 17 percent of it current range in the West, according to new research by scientists from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and the Department of Forest Resource Management at the University of British Columbia.

The study, just published in the journal Climatic Change, was based on an analysis of 12,600 sites across a broad geographic range, where warming temperatures, less winter precipitation, earlier loss of snowpack and more summer drought already appear to be affecting the range of lodgepole pine, at the same time increasing the infestations of bark beetles that attack this tree species.