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Colorado's Forests and the Pine Beetle Epidemic

Office of University Outreach at the University of Colorado Boulder

This video features CU Boulder Professor Jeff Mitton and his research team, who study the effects of mountain pine beetle infestations on the forest ecology in the Rocky Mountains. They explain the pine beetle life cycle and how they attack trees. An outlook into the future is also provided.

Video length 9:23 min.

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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

  • Professor Mitton and researchers explain the connection between the current mountain pine beetle epidemic and climate change in Colorado. They describe how the pine beetle attacks healthy trees and how, in warmer and drier conditions, trees are less able to expel beetles with their moisture-laden resin.
  • More significantly, with a longer warm season, Dr. Mitton's research indicates that pine beetles are able to produce two generations, rather than one, per year. Thus the reproductive potential of the beetle is exponentially greater than it was before. (note: other researchers at CU do not agree with Mitton's findings on this issue - further research needed on this issue)
  • The potential for forest regeneration is also discussed. Drought changes the species composition of the forest and makes it difficult for the regeneration of tree seedlings.

About the Pedagogy

  • This is an exceptionally clear presentation of the issues.
  • The rich details and clear images in this video promote an understanding of how drought conditions consistent with climate change affect both the pine beetle life cycle and the ability of trees to resist infestations.
  • While there is no teacher's guide, there are support materials on the webpage.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The video resolution is sufficient for classroom projection.

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