Why does the Whitebark Pine matter?
The Whitebark Pine matters because it is a keystone species in the ecosystems of western North American mountains. Its seeds provide an important high-fat food resource for wildlife, especially grizzly bears, and various bird and small mammal species. Whitebark pines also play an important role in watershed health, soil erosion prevention, and fire disturbance regimes. As such, its decline due to climate change, disease, and other human activities has the potential to disrupt entire mountain ecosystems.
Whitebark Pine Facts
1. Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a species of pine native to the mountainous regions of western North America.
2. It has a slow growth rate and usually only grows to 15-20 meters in height at maturity.
3. It is an important source of food for many species, including species like Clark’s nutcracker and red squirrels.
4. Whitebark pines are fire-dependent, often requiring fire to open their cones and release their seeds for dispersal.
5. They can live to over 1,000 years old, though losses due to white pine blister rust and mountain pine beetles have reduced their populations in some areas significantly.
6. Whitebark pines are a keystone species in mountain ecosystems, providing habitat for numerous other species and stabilizing soils on steep slopes that otherwise would be prone to erosion and landslides.
- 75% of whitebark pine's range falls on USFS lands, American Forests and High Sierra Alliance are important partners.