By Laura Roady 10/04/2010 11:35:00
http://riverjournal.com/vivvo/outdoors/ ... 02010.html
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Whitebark Pine being considered for Endangered Species status
High on the ridges of the surrounding mountains stand the often-twisted and gnarled whitebark pine. The harsh, wind-blasted environment makes survival difficult but these trees have another battle: mountain pine beetles and white pine blister rust.
The combination of mountain pine beetles and white pine blister rust can be deadly. Mountain pine beetles feed and reproduce under the bark of pine trees which eventually disrupts the flow of water and nutrients within the tree and kills it. White pine blister rust is a fungus that enters through the needles, grows down the branches and into the trunk and eventually girdles the tree. “The mountain pine beetle wouldn’t usually kill all the trees because of the tree’s resistance,” said Robert Keane, research ecologist at the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. “But the mountain pine beetle epidemic is killing all the trees because they are infected with white pine blister rust.”
Continued...The USFS is protecting the best whitebark pine trees in regards to genetics. “We are trying to keep individual trees alive,” said Wynsma. The genetically best trees have small, white pheromone packets attached to them to discourage mountain pine beetles. The packets contain the same pheromone that mountain pine beetles emit to signal to other beetles that the tree is at capacity. Therefore, the packets cause the mountain pine beetles to pass over that tree.