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Case Study: Whitebark Pine in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

  • Karl Buermeyer
  • Daniel Reinhart
  • Kristin Legg
Chapter

Abstract

Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), an iconic tree species generally associated with upper subalpine ecosystems, provides an excellent case study for studying the potential impacts of climate change on a species at the landscape level and how it affects the conservation of that species. Whitebark pine is considered a keystone species in that it dominates areas where other tree species grow poorly or not at all and has broad effects on ecosystem processes. Whitebark pine canopies help regulate snowmelt, extending the length of spring runoff and reducing erosion (Tomback et al. 2001; Farnes 1990). Its large, calorie-rich seeds are a valuable food source for a variety of wildlife species, including grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis), which obtain the seeds almost exclusively by raiding red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) middens (Reinhart and Mattson 1990; Mattson, Tomback, and Reinhart 2001). Upon establishment on high-elevation slopes and other harsh sites, whitebark pine provides favorable microsites for the growth of other plant species, thus increasing ecosystem biodiversity (Keane et al. 2012).

Keywords

Wildland Fire Grizzly Bear Great Yellowstone Ecosystem White Pine Blister Rust Favorable Microsites 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Island Press 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Buermeyer
  • Daniel Reinhart
  • Kristin Legg

There are no affiliations available

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