Results of a new study show that episodes of reduced precipitation in the Southern Rocky Mountains, especially during the 2001-2002 drought, greatly accelerated a rise in numbers of mountain pine beetles. The overabundance is a threat to regional forests.
The research is the first to chart the evolution of the current pine beetle epidemic in the southern Rocky Mountains.
It compared patterns of beetle outbreaks in the two primary host species, the ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine, said University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) researcher Teresa Chapman.
A paper on the subject is published in the current issue of the journal Ecology. Chapman is lead author of the paper; co-authors include CU-Boulder scientists Thomas Veblen and Tania Schoennagel.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the research.
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