Insects & Disease
Fire & Bark Beetles
Whitebark pine forests are declining due to infection by white pine blister rust and mountain pine beetle, combined with the effects of climate change and fire suppression. The Canadian Rocky and Columbia Mountains represent a large portion of the whitebark range; a vast area, exemplifying the need for knowledge about whitebark pine stands to target restoration. The aim of our work was to identify variables predicting live tree infection, seedling infection, canopy kill, mortality, and regeneration across this region, and present the results in spatially-explicit formats to assist land managers with restoration. Live tree and seedling infection by white pine blister rust increased over the last decade and cascading effects of the disease are intensifying, including canopy kill and mortality. We show that large diameter trees are more likely to be infected, and the highest infection rates are in southern and western areas. The conditions for seedling infection are more strongly influenced by fine-scale climatic conditions than for trees. Areas with low regeneration are: (1) the dry east slopes where live tree infection is low; and (2) where live tree infection rates are high, suggesting that canopy kill and mortality are influencing regeneration. Results highlight where to target restoration and coordinate across boundaries.