By: Melanie Vanderhoof PhD
We often hear about the impacts of invasive species on local environments. However, an organism does not need to be invasive or large to have drastic effects at a landscape level. Mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreaks in the south central Rocky Mountains exemplify the far-reaching effects that one small native species may have on entire ecosystems. Dr. Melanie Vanderhoof, currently an ORISE post-doctoral research fellow at the Environmental Protection Agency, investigated the impacts of these outbreaks on long-term energy and water fluxes in coniferous forests in Colorado and Wyoming. These variations to climate patterns can last for more than 40 years and coupled with global climate change, the dynamics of these outbreaks may also be altered.