The range of lodgepole pine trees is shrinking because of a change in temperatures — according to a new study by Oregon State University.
The research, published in the journal Climatic Change, analyzed 12,000 sites across Oregon, Washington, the Rockies and Canada.
Lodgepole pines do well in large areas after major fires. Extreme cold, poor soils and heavy, branch-breaking snows make it difficult for other trees to compete.
But OSU professor emeritus, Richard Waring, says warming temperatures, less winter precipitation, early loss of snowpack and more summer drought has changed the range of the trees.
At the same time, infestations of bark beetles have increased.
Richard Waring: “It looks like it’s been happening since the 80s. We’ve found some big changes taking place since the extremely cool and wet period that ran from about 1940 to 1975.”
Waring thinks that by 2020, lodgepole numbers will have decreased eight percent. And by 2080, the tree will be almost completely absent.
Funding for the research was provided by NASA and the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council of Canada.