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Threats, status & management options for bristlecone pines and limber pines in Southern Rockies


Schoettle, A. W.; Burns, K. S.; Freeman, F.; Sniezko, R. A. 2006. Threats, status & management options for bristlecone pines and limber pines in Southern Rockies. In: Climate variability and change in the San Juan Mountains: Conference proceedings; 2006 October 11-12; Durango, CO. Silverton, CO: Mountain Studies Institute: 64-65.

High-elevation white pines define the most remote alpine-forest ecotones in western North America yet they are not beyond the reach of a lethal non-native pathogen. The pathogen (Cronartium ribicola), a native to Asia, causes the disease white pine blister rust (WPBR) and was introduced into western Canada in 1910. Whitebark (Pinus albicaulis) and limber (P. flexilis) pines have been infected for over 50 years in the northern Rockies and are currently experiencing top-kill and mortality as a result of the disease (see Tomback et al. 2001). The disease was found in southern Wyoming over 30 years ago and in northern Colorado in 1998 on limber pine (Johnson and Jacobi 2000). Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine (P. aristata) was first found infected in south-central Colorado in 2003 (Blodgett and Sullivan 2004). The pathogen continues to spread and threaten the extensive high elevation pine forests of the southern Rockies (Burns 2006). Approximately half of the distribution of bristlecone, limber and southwestern white pine in Colorado have environmental conditions conducive to the invasion of WPBR (Kearns 2005; Howell, Burns and Kearns 2006). Given the unique ecological roles played by these species, tree mortality and reduced regeneration success caused by blister rust will affect biodiversity, watershed stability, forest recovery after fire, wildlife and recreation (Schoettle 2004a).

Keywords: high-elevation white pines, bristlecone pines, limber pines, Southern Rockies, Cronartium ribicola, white pine blister rust (WPBR)


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Threats, status & management options for bristlecone pines and limber pines in Southern Rockies
Electronic Publish Date: March 14, 2008
Last Update:
March 14, 2008

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