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knocker

As climate warms, bark beetles march on high-elevation forests

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MADISON – Trees and the insects that eat them wage constant war. Insects burrow and munch; trees deploy lethal and disruptive defenses in the form of chemicals.

But in a warming world, where temperatures and seasonal change are in flux, the tide of battle may be shifting in some insects' favor, according to a new study.

In a report published today (Dec. 31, 2012) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports a rising threat to the whitebark pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains as native mountain pine beetles climb ever higher, attacking trees that have not evolved strong defenses to stop them.

The whitebark pine forests of the western United States and Canada are the forest ecosystems that occur at the highest elevation that sustains trees. It is critical habitat for iconic species such as the grizzly bear and plays an important role in governing the hydrology of the mountain west by shading snow and regulating the flow of meltwater.

"Warming temperatures have allowed tree-killing beetles to thrive in areas that were historically too cold for them most years," explains Ken Raffa, a UW-Madison professor of entomology and a senior author of the new report. "The tree species at these high elevations never evolved strong defenses."

A warming world has not only made it easier for the mountain pine beetle to invade new and defenseless ecosystems, but also to better withstand winter weather that is milder and erupt in large outbreaks capable of killing entire stands of trees, no matter their composition.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-12/uow-acw122812.php

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Wouldn't damaged areas be colonised by resistant trees in a fairly seamless process?

They do like to make an over-egged drama from the sort of thing which has always gone on.

OK some trees might be damaged - but then to imply Grizzly bears and water resources are consequently threatened is classic eco-babble.

I'll leave aside the claimed extent of warming.

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The information here is incredibly inaccurate.

The degree of warming in recent years (attributable to AGW or not) is incredibly marginal when you consider the ability of the Pine Beetle to survive in temperatures as low as - 35c / - 40c. A few degrees either way of that (which is what we're talking about when it comes to climate change in recent years) is irrelevant to both their survival or proliferation.

The biggest problem with Pine Beetle infestation and their continued spread is directly attributable to the change in timber production. The USA building industry is heavily dependant upon Lodgepole Pine and as a consequence vast swathes of what was once varied forest land is now devoted to it's growth. If you take any varied species landscape and change it to one of monoculture, you will always encounter a large growth in insect and fungal problems. Irrespective of any change in climate, this will always be an issue.

This attempt to link the problem to climate change is spurious at best or deceptive at worst; either way, it's borderline nonsense when taken in the wider context of wholesale lumber production and the inherent problems which arise as a consequence of the usual practises employed.

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Another example of a vested interest looking to blame anyone/anything but itself?

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Shouldnt be a long term issue because IF the climate in these parts continues slightly warmer then the tree line will rise accordingly and leave the Pine Beetles behind.

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The information here is incredibly inaccurate.

The degree of warming in recent years (attributable to AGW or not) is incredibly marginal when you consider the ability of the Pine Beetle to survive in temperatures as low as - 35c / - 40c. A few degrees either way of that (which is what we're talking about when it comes to climate change in recent years) is irrelevant to both their survival or proliferation.

The biggest problem with Pine Beetle infestation and their continued spread is directly attributable to the change in timber production. The USA building industry is heavily dependant upon Lodgepole Pine and as a consequence vast swathes of what was once varied forest land is now devoted to it's growth. If you take any varied species landscape and change it to one of monoculture, you will always encounter a large growth in insect and fungal problems. Irrespective of any change in climate, this will always be an issue.

This attempt to link the problem to climate change is spurious at best or deceptive at worst; either way, it's borderline nonsense when taken in the wider context of wholesale lumber production and the inherent problems which arise as a consequence of the usual practises employed.

This is exactly what happened ten years ago when the green lobby linked the lack of sand eels to global warming theories and the lack of Cod stocks in the North Sea. They blamed man driving motor cars burning fossil fuels.

It turned out to be the most obvious answer which they had deliberately overlooked....over fishing.

The sand eels were and still are being over fished and ten years ago (probably still) were caught by the Norwegians to fuel power stations. The Cod stocks didnt migrate north either, having banned over fishing they are now back again in good numbers.

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Well, someone's clearly 'barking up the wrong tree' with this one?

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Wouldn't damaged areas be colonised by resistant trees in a fairly seamless process?

They do like to make an over-egged drama from the sort of thing which has always gone on.

OK some trees might be damaged - but then to imply Grizzly bears and water resources are consequently threatened is classic eco-babble.

I'll leave aside the claimed extent of warming.

Colonisation is by resistant species in mentioned at the end of the link, but they seem to think it unlikely. If there is a risk of the beetles having a large impact on that ecosystems, it seems valid to point that out.

The information here is incredibly inaccurate.

The degree of warming in recent years (attributable to AGW or not) is incredibly marginal when you consider the ability of the Pine Beetle to survive in temperatures as low as - 35c / - 40c. A few degrees either way of that (which is what we're talking about when it comes to climate change in recent years) is irrelevant to both their survival or proliferation.

The biggest problem with Pine Beetle infestation and their continued spread is directly attributable to the change in timber production. The USA building industry is heavily dependant upon Lodgepole Pine and as a consequence vast swathes of what was once varied forest land is now devoted to it's growth. If you take any varied species landscape and change it to one of monoculture, you will always encounter a large growth in insect and fungal problems. Irrespective of any change in climate, this will always be an issue.

This attempt to link the problem to climate change is spurious at best or deceptive at worst; either way, it's borderline nonsense when taken in the wider context of wholesale lumber production and the inherent problems which arise as a consequence of the usual practises employed.

Where are the inaccuracies? Where's your evidence for the survivability of the beetle? Do you think the researchers hadn't considered that?

This study was done in the "Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the last nearly intact ecosystems in the Earth's northern temperate regions", not an artificially planted area.

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