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Professor Chris Bone leads a team of researchers in a National Science Foundation-supported project examining the effects of climate change on the mountain pine beetle

Professors Chris Bone, Patrick Bartlein and Dan Gavin study impacts of climate change on forest insects

Professor Chris Bone is leading a team of researchers from the Department of Geography, Computer and Information Science, the Institute for Sustainable Development, The University of Chicago and the University College London in a National Science Foundation-supported project. The $1.3 million grant will examine the effects of climate change on the mountain pine beetle. This insect is responsible for the killing of tens of millions of acres of trees just in the past twenty years.

“Responses to these outbreaks have largely existed as federal or state-level initiatives aimed at mitigating ongoing damage caused by beetle infestations,” Bone said. “Minimal attention has been paid to how multiple levels of governance, from local stakeholders to federal agencies can interact to produce novel, flexible and timely responses that can potentially alter both current and future beetle impacts under the uncertainty of climate change.”

The team will use computer modeling to identify patterns of forest change under different scenarios to increase the understanding of pine beetle infestations. The hope is that providing more information about possible responses by the beetles to climate change scenarios, agencies charged with dealing with these infestations can be more proactive that reactive, and able to use the information to prevent or reduce future outbreaks of this destructive insect.