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Pine Bark Beetle Outbreaks and Climate

American Museum of Natural History

This interactive shows the extent of the killing of lodgepole pine trees in western Canada. The spread of pine beetle throughout British Columbia has devastated the lodgepole pine forests there. This animation shows the spread of the beetle and the increasing numbers of trees affected from 1999-2008 and predicts the spread up until 2015.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Individual organisms survive within specific ranges of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Organisms exposed to climate conditions outside their normal range must adapt or migrate, or they will perish.
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Changes in climate conditions can affect the health and function of ecosystems and the survival of entire species. The distribution patterns of fossils show evidence of gradual as well as abrupt extinctions related to climate change in the past.
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e on Earth depends on, is shaped by, and affects climate
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change. Animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses will migrate to new areas with favorable climate conditions. Infectious diseases and certain species will be able to invade areas that they did not previously inhabit.
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mate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions
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Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.
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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

About the Science

  • This animation shows the spread of the beetle and the increasing numbers of trees affected from 1999-2008 and predicts the spread up until 2015.
  • Background information, references and data sources are clearly given.
  • Scientists in western Canada have been tracking the extent of the mountain pine beetle. This native insect kills weak and old lodgepole pine trees, thus promoting healthy growth of young forests. In times of drought, beetle populations can spike, spreading to healthy pine trees.
  • Historically, cold winters kept beetle populations under control. A new study published in the journal Nature highlights how climate change is promoting pine beetle outbreaks—and how the outbreaks are contributing to climate change.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This study provides the possible insect outbreaks and their feedback to the ecosystem and relates it to global warming and forest carbon dynamics.
  • It is a very interesting article as it combines forest dynamics with climate change. The focus is mostly on temperature.
  • Effect of precipitation, however, is not mentioned much, and the combined effect of decreasing precipitation during winter (less snow) and increasing temperature can increase effects of pine beetle and other invasive insects on trees.

About the Pedagogy

  • Excellent tool that would be useful when teaching about the carbon cycle feedbacks, biological limiting factors and ecological consequences of climate change.
  • A how-to-use guide can be found at http://www.amnh.org/sciencebulletins/educators_guide/howuse.php.
  • This resource provides lots of information on pine bark beetle in an interesting format.
  • Educators may need to show where Western Canada is relative to the continental US.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Excellent quality and easy to use.
  • Requires Adobe Flash player.
  • This interactive has no narration.

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