US Forest Service Research & Development
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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

A Proactive Strategy To Control Invasive Species in Mountaintop Ecosystems

Healthy Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine stand in Colorado threatened by white pine blister rust and mountain pine beetle. Forest ServiceSnapshot : High-elevation pine forests, under the threat of multiple stressors, serve as an excellent flagship to lead the shift away from crisis management and toward proactive management for ecosystem resilience

Principal Investigators(s) :
Schoettle, Anna W.  
Research Location : Southern Rocky Mountains and Southwest; Western North America
Research Station : Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 121


People value high-elevation white pine forests because of the forests' aesthetics and longevity. These pines often define the very altitudinal limits of tree growth and help capture snow and control its melt at the headwaters of Northwestern American watersheds. The pines' large seeds also serve as food for many animals that play important roles in wildlife food chains. These forests and the headwater ecosystems the animals occupy are threatened, however, by the nonnative lethal disease white pine blister rust.

Many ecosystems in the West are already impacted. The southern Rocky Mountains are at the leading edge of the infection front, leaving the landscape susceptible to invasion, and the continued spread of the pathogen over time is inevitable. Without intervention, high frequencies of pine mortality will threaten the sustainability of the white pine species.

Forest Service scientists and their partners developed a proactive strategy framework to sustain healthy high-elevation pine populations and mitigate the impact of white pine blister rust. The strategy was introduced in 2004 and further developed in 2007 and 2011. Land managers began implementing the framework in 2008. High-elevation pine forests, under the threat of multiple stressors, serve as an excellent flagship to shift conservation focus away from crisis management and toward proactive management that provides for ecosystem resilience.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • R-2 Forest Health Protection
  • R2-National Forest Systems
  • R6-Dorena Genetic Resource Center
  • WO-Forest Health Protection
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Colorado State University
  • Mountain Studies Institute, USDA ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation
  • National Park Service (Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Rocky Mountain National Park and Preserve)
  • Rocky Mountain Research Station
  • Western State University of Colorado