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FEATURE

More Fragile than They Might Appear





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Cross-posted on Huffington Post

A twenty-two year USGS study of 21,000 trees in the Sierras has produced an unexpected result: The trees are dying. Not just one variety, but the Ponderosa Pines, the White Fir Conifers, the Red Fir, the Jeffrey Pines and the Subalpine are all dying of the thirst and the heat and the insect infestation that accompanies drought conditions.

“They’re more fragile than they might appear,” says Dr. Phillip van Mantgem, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the report that suggests even the slightest change in climate can produce unexpected results in a delicate ecosystem. In this case, in addition to the millions of Southern California trees that have already died due to the Bark Beetle infestation, the Sierra range will be more vulnerable to fires as the dying trees become kindling while the air their leaves and pine needles once cooled grows warmer...[more]

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