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David Sparks Ph.d Beetle Infestations
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: January 16, 2018

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Bark beetles..an epidemic with daunting consequences. The Rocky Mountains and the forests of the great NW are under siege by an enemy smaller than a thumbnail…the pine beetle. When you look at our forests you can see whole swaths of standing dead timber and it is very scary. Not only are the trees affected but our water supply is threatened and dead trees are also not converting carbon dioxide back to oxygen. Dr Stephen Cook is a University of Idaho Professor of Entomology and he is very concerned: “The outbreaks that we have are huge and they’re gonna change virtually everything that’s associated with those stands. The beetle’s actually doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s a natural component of our forests and we have modified those forests. Fire suppression has allowed a higher density than we would normally have of even aged lodge pole pine. The overcrowded stands are stressed, individual trees are fighting for survival to get enough water and nutrients and then when they reach the susceptible stage the beetle just takes them out. Fire suppression has done a lot to change our forests. If we could find an effective natural enemy, that would be wonderful.

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