A new study used tree-rings and documentary records of spruce beetle outbreak across much of the Rockies from the northern Front Range to Grand Mesa in southwestern Colorado over the past 300+ years to examine the climate variables associated with past outbreaks.
Recently, there has been growing area of high elevation forest affected by spruce beetles. So much so that in 2012, U.S. Forest Service surveys indicated that more area was under attack by spruce beetles than mountain pine beetles in the Southern Rocky Mountains – Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The drought conditions that promote spruce beetle outbreak are expected to continue.
The authors are CU Geography Ph.D. student Sarah Hart, Geography Professor Thomas Veblen and three of Veblen’s former students – Karen Eisenhart, Dominik Kulakowski and Dan Jarvis. The National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society funded the study.