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Whitebark Pine: A Treeline Keystone Species 2021 2022 Aug 28, 2022

Description: Join retired Forest Service ecologist Jeff DiBenedetto for a visit to a Whitebark Pine stand that experienced a bark beetle attach around 2021. We will discuss Whitebark ecology, why it’s a keystone species, the threats posed by climate change, bark beetles and blister rust, and efforts to protect and restore Whitebark Pine stands.

We will see the effects of a bark beetle attack on the age distribution and structure of the stand (why some trees were attacked and others survived), see regeneration of Whitebark Pine in the understory, see evidence of the tree colonizing (moving upslope) alpine grasslands (is that due to warming temperatures?) and with a little luck, maybe see nutcrackers harvesting pine nuts. As a bonus, on the walk back across the alpine we can discuss or point out various alpine plant communities.

Plan to hike about 1-2 miles round trip, leaving from a pullout on top of Line Creek Plateau.

Meeting time and location: 8AM, US Forest Service Beartooth District Ranger Station

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