Montana: Big Sky Country, Big Climate Problems

http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/

Our op-ed was picked up by the Missoulian!

INTERVIEW: Architect David Benjamin on Building The World’s First Mushroom Tower at PS1

Forest health crisis ends with a whimper | The Colorado Independent

A good read on bark beetles including views of scientists

Bark beetle field day - Its not just #pinebeetle!

Everybody loves a field trip! I spent part of yesterday in the field discussing short- and long-term (14 years so far!) results on bark beetle activity in response to various forest treatments in an operational sized, statistically rigorous, replicated study. Very cool day. We welcome groups that would like to see what we are doing and what we are finding.

Funding for NSF (Science!) gets stalled again (Come on Congress! Science makes us competitive)

From Entomological Society of America—-Senate FY 2015 NSF Funding Bill Stalls in the Senate
As Congress continues to consider its spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2015, the fate of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill, which includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), remains uncertain. The Senate’s version of the legislation was part of an appropriations package that was recently pulled from the Senate floor, and it is unclear when it will move forward.
The Senate’s version of the CJS legislation was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 5. The bill would provide $7.255 billion for NSF, which is an $83.1 million (1.2 percent) increase over last year’s level. Included in the NSF budget would be $5.839 billion for the Research & Related Activities account.
As reported in last month’s Policy Newsletter, on May 30 the House passed their version of the legislation, which would fund NSF at a level of $7.404 billion. The report accompanying the House bill also includes language encouraging NSF to continue efforts to learn more about the prevalence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases by “funding meritorious Lyme disease research proposals that fully meet NSF’s peer review standards.”
Sources and Additional Information:

A good little video on spruce beetle

A long-term study on forest treatments and bark beetles 
Starting in 1999, we have been working on a large, fully replicated, long-term study to investigate how commonly applied forest treatments affect bark beetle populations in Rocky Mountain mixed conifer forests. This project began as part of a large study called the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (FFS) conducted at several sites across the US. The FFS was designed to describe the ecological effects of thinning, thinning and burning, burning, or no treatment. The original study focused on treatment effects on fuels, vegetation, tree regeneration, wildlife, tree diseases, and bark beetles. While the FFS officially ended in 2004, we have continued to monitor bark beetle responses and how beetles are altering stand structure and composition at our site in Montana.
This study is allowing us to describe how five species of bark beetles (mountain pine beetle, western pine beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, pine engraver, and red turpentine beetle) respond to stand treatments in the long term. Importantly, it is allowing us to describe responses of mountain pine beetles through non-outbreak, outbreak, and post-outbreak phases - something that has not previously been done.
Conducting a long-term study can be extremely challenging. Maintaining large-scale study sites is difficult due to competing pressures for use. There is also considerable reluctance of forest managers to allow beetle outbreaks to progress at such sites without applying additional management. Funding is also difficult. After the initial five years of funding for the FFS ended, we have managed to keep this project going with small grants in some years. However, mostly we have kept it going through out-of-pocket spending and hard-working volunteers. This year, I would like to recognize two great undergraduate volunteers, Jessica Jenne and Emery Fogg (shown in photo above) for keeping the project viable for yet another year.
If you are interested in our findings from our study, the first eight years of data have been analyzed and published in the paper at this link http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112709003612. We will be submitting a paper on our fifteen year results by mid-2015. Over the next few months, I will periodically be blogging on what we have found so far with each of the five different beetle species.

A long-term study on forest treatments and bark beetles

Starting in 1999, we have been working on a large, fully replicated, long-term study to investigate how commonly applied forest treatments affect bark beetle populations in Rocky Mountain mixed conifer forests. This project began as part of a large study called the National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study (FFS) conducted at several sites across the US. The FFS was designed to describe the ecological effects of thinning, thinning and burning, burning, or no treatment. The original study focused on treatment effects on fuels, vegetation, tree regeneration, wildlife, tree diseases, and bark beetles. While the FFS officially ended in 2004, we have continued to monitor bark beetle responses and how beetles are altering stand structure and composition at our site in Montana.

This study is allowing us to describe how five species of bark beetles (mountain pine beetle, western pine beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, pine engraver, and red turpentine beetle) respond to stand treatments in the long term. Importantly, it is allowing us to describe responses of mountain pine beetles through non-outbreak, outbreak, and post-outbreak phases - something that has not previously been done.

Conducting a long-term study can be extremely challenging. Maintaining large-scale study sites is difficult due to competing pressures for use. There is also considerable reluctance of forest managers to allow beetle outbreaks to progress at such sites without applying additional management. Funding is also difficult. After the initial five years of funding for the FFS ended, we have managed to keep this project going with small grants in some years. However, mostly we have kept it going through out-of-pocket spending and hard-working volunteers. This year, I would like to recognize two great undergraduate volunteers, Jessica Jenne and Emery Fogg (shown in photo above) for keeping the project viable for yet another year.

If you are interested in our findings from our study, the first eight years of data have been analyzed and published in the paper at this link http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112709003612. We will be submitting a paper on our fifteen year results by mid-2015. Over the next few months, I will periodically be blogging on what we have found so far with each of the five different beetle species.

Our new paper on cold snaps, pine beetles, and whitebark pine

Edith Dooley, James Powell, Diana Six

Abstract:

Warming has allowed mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) to move higher in elevation and cause extensive mortality of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.). Although mountain pine beetle prefers whitebark pine to its historic host, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex Louden), it is not known whether the two host trees differentially affect the beetle. We compared emergence rates of the beetle in both species by monitoring numbers of beetles attacking and brood emerging from whitebark and lodgepole pines growing in mixed stands experiencing an ongoing beetle outbreak. We measured sizes of the emerging beetles. During the study, most beetles at our study sites died. A combined phenology/cold tolerance model driven by local temperatures indicated that cold weather events probably caused this mortality. The mortality events offered a unique opportunity to assess how cold weather events interact with the tree host to affect beetle emergence rates and survival. The numbers of beetles emerging from the two tree species after the cold events did not differ. Relative to attack densities, beetle emergence rates from whitebark pine were significantly higher and more beetles emerged from small diameter whitebark pine than from similar sized lodgepole pine. We found no difference in sizes of beetles emerging from the two species.