Mountain Pine Beetle-attacked canopy in the red stage seen from top of the Kennedy Siding Flux Tower in Interior BC, 23 August 2007. Part of album 'Kennedy Siding Flux Tower'. Photo: Matthew Brown / UBC / flickr

By Daisy Simmons
22 January 2018

(Yale Climate Connections) – Canada’s vast conifer forests are being destroyed by tiny beetles that are on the move. Mountain pine beetles are native to western North America, but as the climate warms, the beetle’s range is expanding.

Six: “It’s actually jumped the Rockies and has spread across Alberta to Saskatchewan. That’s in the far north, it’s interior. It’s typically very, very cold, and in the past too cold for the beetle to survive there, but now it’s warm enough.”

Diana Six is an entomologist at the University of Montana. She says that, as the beetles spread to these new locations, they are starting to kill a new type of tree: jack pine, which is a dominant species across much of Canada.

Six: “Jack pine is what we call a naive host. It means it’s one that the beetle hasn’t co-evolved with and so that tree has never had to evolve defenses against the beetle.”

She fears that the beetles could destroy vast areas of jack pine forests across Canada, and eventually even move into eastern pine forests.

When dead trees decompose, they release stored carbon back to the atmosphere. So when millions of trees are destroyed by beetles, it is not just devastating for wildlife – it makes climate change worse.

A destructive beetle has jumped the Rockies

1 comments :

  1. Anonymous said...

    More fires to come. Great big ones.  

 

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