2012 Monitoring WBP Populations Exposed to Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreaks in Southern Extent of its Range

Project:  Monitoring of Whitebark Pine Populations Exposed to Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreaks in the Southern Extent of its Range

Attachments:   Inyo_Meyer_2012_FY12 Highlights-For printing                Inyo_Meyer_2012

 Agency/Forest or Park/District: Inyo National Forest (Region 5), Southern Sierra Nevada of California

Project coordinator: Marc Meyer


Marc Meyer, Ecologist, Southern Sierra Nevada Province, 1600 Tollhouse Road, Clovis, CA 93611; Phone: (559) 297-0706 x 4929; E-mail: mdmeyer@fs.fed.us

Beverly Bulaon, Forest Entomologist; Martin MacKenzie, Forest Pathologist; Forest Health Protection, South Sierra Shared Service Area, 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora, California, 95370; Phone: (209) 532-3671; E-mail: bbulaon@fs.fed.us and mmackenzie@fs.fed.us


Scott Kusumoto, Forest Silviculturalist, Mammoth Lakes Ranger District, Inyo National Forest

Source of funding /amount

FHP: $21,000

Supplemental funding: $25,000 from Researchers in kind and FS.

Dates of restoration efforts



– Examine patterns of mortality, regeneration, and recruitment in whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) populations exposed to mountain pine beetle outbreaks in the southern Sierra Nevada of California,

– Evaluate potential causal mechanisms of mortality and regeneration related to stand- and landscape-level factors, and

– Contribute to the development of a long-term monitoring plan and restoration/adaptive strategies for vulnerable whitebark pine populations in the southern Sierra Nevada, with a focus on the Inyo National Forest.

Acres/ha treated  N/A


We propose to monitor the ecological condition of whitebark pine populations on the Inyo National Forest using a grid-based monitoring design developed collaboratively by the Southern Sierra Forest Health and Protection and Region 5 Ecology Programs. We will select whitebark pine stands that have experienced recent (post-2005) tree mortality related to mountain pine beetle for long-term monitoring, including but not limited to June Mountain (northern site), Rock Creek (central site), and Monache Mountain/Casa Vieja (southern site). Monitoring sites will capture variation in latitudinal and elevation gradients and substrate types across the southern Sierra Nevada ecoregion. We will also monitor undisturbed „control‟ sites lacking evidence of recent mountain pine beetle related mortality to evaluate potential causal mechanisms of recent beetle outbreaks. Recorded variables will primarily focus on: (1) site attributes (e.g., slope, aspect, elevation, substrate, vegetation type, and topographic position), (2) vegetation and ground cover (e.g., overstory and understory vegetation cover, litter and woody debris cover, litter depth, live and dead basal area), (3) tree attributes and health (e.g., density of live and dead stems, density of clumps, severity and timing of mountain pine beetle attack, crown condition, cone abundance, evidence of diseases and dwarf mistletoe), and (4) tree regeneration (e.g., density and age structure of seedlings and saplings, sapling dbh, evidence of insects and diseases such as white pine blister rust). Monitoring will focus on whitebark pine but will include data collection for coexisting species (e.g., lodgepole pine, western white pine).

Monitoring data and summaries will be used to contribute to the development of adaptive strategies for whitebark pine populations. This will be accomplished in close coordination with the Southern Sierra Ecoregional Vulnerability Assessment team, which is focused on modeling future changes in vegetation (including distribution of whitebark pine populations) in response to climate and climate-related processes. Two principal investigators (B. Bulaon, M. Meyer) have been involved in this on-going effort

Planting? If so, source of seedlings? Resistance?  No


We successfully established 72 whitebark pine monitoring plotsin three different sites (June Mountain, Rock Creek/Hilton Lakes, and White Wing Mountain), to represent the scope of the current mountain pine beetle outbreak occurring in the southern Sierra Nevada of California. Additionally on June Mountain, we have established stratified baseline plots among whitebark pine stands exhibiting high-mortality (>50% overstory mortality), low-mortality (‘control’), and high-mortality stands targeted for future restoration treatments (effectiveness monitoring).

Monitoring since completion of the project

            Dates: Monitoring is ongoingand has included an increase in the number of established plots.

            Plans for future monitoring?  Yes, we plan to expand the scope of our whitebark pine monitoring efforts to include other geographic areas of the Sierra Nevada.

Will outcome meet goals? Yes, we have used initial monitoring data to address all three objectives of our study.  

Future actions/follow up?  We are currently in the process of drafting an updated monitoring report to further address our first two objectives.  We have used preliminary monitoring data to: (1) develop a long-term whitebark pine monitoring strategy for national forests of the Sierra Nevada, (2) facilitate or support technical workshops dedicated to whitebark pine monitoring in the ecoregion, and (3) contribute to the development of climate adaptation strategies for whitebark pine populations in the Sierra Nevada, including the U.S. Forest Service funded “Sierra Nevada climate vulnerability assessment” and interagency “Southern Sierra Ecoregional Vulnerability Assessment.”  Final reports for these assessments are forthcoming.

Miscellaneous comments

Please see associated whitebark pine monitoring report for the Inyo National Forest in fiscal year 2012 for more details.  A summary of our updated monitoring results is pending completion of the fiscal year 2013 monitoring report.  Our monitoring is also featured on pages 10-11 in the 2012-2013 USDA Forest Service Region 5 Ecology Program highlights report.