$4.3 M research project to focus on pine beetle epidemic

UBC is among partners sharing $4.3 million to research ways to stop the spread of the mountain pine beetle

University of British Columbia is among partners of the Turning Risk Into Action (TRIA) Network sharing $4.3 million to research ways to stop the spread of the mountain pine beetle, which has devastated western pine forests.

More than 1 billion cubic metres of mature pine trees have been killed across more than 19 million hectares of forest land, mostly in British Columbia and Alberta.

Prof. Janice Cooke of University of Alberta is principal investigator for the project, Turning Risk into Action for the Mountain Pine Beetle, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Strategic Network Grants program and partners of the TRIA Network.

Assoc. Prof. Lael Parrott of UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, collaborating with Scott Heckbert, senior researcher at Alberta Innovates and an adjunct faculty member, will lead one of four themes of research, focusing on assessing and quantifying landscape-scale impacts. These include impacts on the availability of species habitats, recreational opportunities, hydrological cycles and a range of other ecosystem services on the landscape. This part of the project is supported by $364,000 from the overall grant.

Ecosystem services are described as the benefits derived from ecosystems by humans, such as food, water, air and recreation.

Parrott, an expert in complex systems, human-environment systems modelling and social-ecological networks, and Heckbert, specializing in ecological economics and complex systems modelling, will analyze and assess the vulnerability and resilience of communities located in areas of predicted beetle range expansion to potential changes in ecosystem services on the landscape.

The project includes mapping and modeling the impact of the mountain pine beetle epidemic on its current and predicted future range in British Columbia and Alberta and assessing and modelling the resilience of landscape-scale social-ecological systems to pine beetle outbreaks. The results will help determine which parts of predicted areas of beetle spread are the most vulnerable and identify appropriate intervention strategies and management practices.

 

Further details about NSERC grant programs are available at: www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/NSERC-CRSNG/ProgramNewsDetails-Nouvelles DesProgrammesDetails_eng.asp?ID=438