Vast stands of coniferous forest are an essential part of the ecology, economy, and character of western North America. Recent dramatic changes, such as forest mortality from insect outbreaks and increased fire activity, are occurring across huge areas of western forests. Forest, Beetles, and the Cycles of Life explores the past, present and future of our forests by traveling through space and time to understand the connections between local forest ecosystems, global forest biomes, and our cosmic neighborhood. It examines how pine beetles have changed Colorado’s landscapes, how these infestations arose, and their impacts on forests of western North America.
This event originally took place at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Gates Planetarium (Denver, CO) on June 4, 2013.
Professor Jeff Mitton and researchers from the University of Colorado explain the connection between the unprecedented mountain pine beetles epidemic and climate change in Colorado.
Student documentary about the Mountain Pine Beetle
This 30-minute television documentary from South Dakota Public Broadcasting looks at the various impacts of a significant, multi-year Mountain Pine Beetle infestation in the Black Hills.
The Pine Beetle Project was funded by the Department of Energy to study how the recent deaths of pine trees in the mountains of the Western US are likely to affect regional and global carbon budgets. An unprecedented outbreak of mountain pine beetle populations has caused widespread mortality, especially in lodgepole pine forests. Their studies have shown that the forests will shift from being a carbon sink to being a carbon source.
Mountain pine beetle attacks have decimated BCs pine forests, seriously damaging their ability to store carbon and protect against global warming. An effective response to the beetle attacks will involve much more than just clearcutting dead trees.
The Beetles are Coming takes the viewer on a rich, up close and personal journey into the world of the Mountain Pine Beetle, and uncovers the science behind this ecological disaster. The story of this remarkable little creature the size of a grain of rice that will destroy the pine forests of North America epitomizes the cause and effect of how climate change can upset the balance of nature with unpredictable, unimaginable, devastating results. Forest officials scrambled to contain the damage. Once the lodgepole pines turned red they burned with a ferocious intensity. That combined with hot summers, created the ideal conditions for raging out-of-control forest fires. Industry began logging the infected trees in attempt to clear the forest and capitalize on the economic value of the timber. At considerable expense, forestry officials in B.C. and Alberta began marking and burning infested trees to control the spread but found it impossible to keep up.