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04 Apr 2011: Tree-killing Pine Beetles
Moving East, Canadian Study Finds

The mountain pine beetle that has decimated large swaths of lodgepole and ponderosa pine forests across western North America in recent years is migrating eastward, according to report by Canadian

What’s Killing the Great
Forests of the American West?

What’s Killing the Great Forests of the American West?
Across western North America, huge tracts of forest are dying off at an extraordinary rate, mostly because of outbreaks of insects. Scientists are now seeing such forest die-offs around the world and are linking them to changes in climate.
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researchers. Scientists at the University of Alberta say they have found evidence that the insect has infested jack pines as far east as Slave Lake in Alberta, about 120 miles north of Edmonton. The jack pine is the dominant pine species of Canada’s boreal forest, which stretches east from Alberta to the Maritime provinces. Since the late-1990s, oubreaks of the mountain pine beetles — linked to warmer winters — have devastated more than 70,000 square miles of forest in western Canada and the U.S. According to the new report, published in the journal Molecular Ecology, the beetle — which can fly — was able to cross a wide swath of forest where lodgepoles and jack pines interbreed to create hybrid trees. While it can be difficult to distinguish between the hybrid trees and jack pines, the scientists used molecular markers to conclude that the infested trees are indeed jack pines. The pine beetles have flourished recently as milder winters have failed to kill the beetle larvae.


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