The mountain pine beetle (MPB, Dendroctonus ponderosae), a tree-killing bark beetle, has historically been part of the normal disturbance regime in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) forests. In recent years, warmer weather has allowed MPB populations to achieve synchronous emergence and successful attacks, resulting in widespread population outbreaks and resultant tree mortality across western North America. Here we will use a system of difference equations that incorporates a temperature-dependent MPB population growth rate to model the outbreak and recovery cycle in MPB-infested forests.
We will explore analytical methods, applied to the model, to predict outbreak severity in terms of the climate-sensitive growth rate parameter. These model-based predictions elucidate the connection between warming climate and increased severity of recent MPB outbreaks
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