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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Global Warming Threatens Pine Forests Forcing Federal Officials to Shift Strategy


From an article in The Washington Post-

Diana Tomback, a biology professor at the University of Colorado Denver who directs the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation http://www.whitebarkfound.org/, started studying whitebark as a graduate student in the 1970s. She was the first to discover that the tree depended on the diminutive Clark’s nutcracker to disperse its seeds: the bird pries seeds from whitebark cones and transports them in its throat pouch, depositing as many as 35,000 seeds in 30,000 sites in a single season.

Now, some regions of the Northern Rockies have experienced an 80 percent die-off of whitebark pines, and the Natural Resource Defense Council projects that between 80 and 100 percent of remaining trees in some areas will be killed by mountain pine beetles, whitepine blister rust or a combination of the two. The NRDC has petitioned to list the tree as an endangered species.

“Seeing what’s happened to the whitebark pine really shakes you up,” Tomback said, adding that scientists and officials need to be “strategic” if they want to protect some of the remaining conifers growing near mountain tops. “There is certainly nothing that’s going to work to protect millions of acres of these high-elevation trees.”

To read more of The Washington Post article please click here.