Turns out the famously tough and long-lived Bristlecone Pine is is generally unsusceptible to mountain pine beetle infestation.
A new study of the ancient trees, including some specimens high on Mount Charleston, shows they are highly resistant to damage from mountain pine beetles, which have killed millions of other types of pine trees across the West in the past decade.
Rising temperatures associated with climate change have fueled a beetle explosion throughout the region, including major outbreaks in high-elevation forests, experts say.
But in the same warming woodlands where the bugs are killing large numbers of other pine trees, bristlecones have escaped almost completely unscathed, according to findings by the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station and Utah State University, both in Logan, Utah.
“We found no bristlecones that had been attacked,” said Barbara Bentz, the Forest Service’s lead scientist on the study.
The reason: The iconic old trees are made from high density wood and contain much higher levels of a chemical resin that repels insect invaders — four times the levels found in foxtail pine and eight times the levels found in limber pine, a common host plant for beetles.
“We were very surprised to find such incredible defenses in Great Basin bristlecone pine,” Bentz said. “Extreme longevity and past evolutionary experiences have helped this species survive current pressures in a changing climate.”
entire article here: Bristlecone pines untroubled by tree-killing beetle invasion, study shows