Thursday, September 01, 2005

Climatic Changes - Pine Beetles & Fungus

The brown areas you see are dead evergreen trees killed by an infestation of pine beetles. This is Lighting Lake, in the Manning Park Lodge area of B.C.

From the Times Colonist September 1, 2005

Fungus puts B.C. pines under siege

A common fungus has turned lethal and is killing pine trees in Western Canada in what researchers describe as a “globally unprecedented” epidemic associated with recent changes in the climate.

The fungus is killing plantations of lodgepole pine in the hardest hit areas of northwestern B.C. and is also affecting mature native trees, says Alex Woods a forest pathologist with the B.C. forest service.

In a report in the journal Bio Science today, Woods and his colleagues describe how the innocuous fungus has turned into a killer, aggravating problems in B.C. forest already devasted by pine beetles.

Researchers have long warned that climate changes linked to global warming could give pathogens and pests the upper hand. B.C.’s problems with pine beetles and now fungus are being held up internationally as evidence. “It shows how unpredictable the impacts of climate change can be”, says Woods. “Its’s sobering.”

Scientists say warm winters have allowed the pine beetle to multiply and spread at an unprecedented rate, killing vast tracts of forest in central B.C. The fungus, called Dothistroma septosporum, is flourishing in northwestern B.C. where Woods and his colleagues say wet summers have favoured its spread. The wet trend, which continues this summer has favoured the fungus, out-weighing any benefit the extra precipitation may have had on tree growth, they say.

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