Vol. 40 (2017)
Research Project Ecology

Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis), snow and refugia in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

David Laufenberg
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
Andrew Hansen
Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
David Thoma
National Park Service, Bozeman, MT
Glove sitting next to snow-covered pine tree
Published December 15, 2017


Research and management issues related to pine forests, snowpack and refugia are relevant to mountainous ecosystems globally. For this study, we investigated local snowpack longevity as an explanatory variable for whitebark pine performance (survival rate, growth rate and condition). We used Sentinel-2 imagery to monitor local snowpack longevity. This new imagery is spatially and temporally more appropriate than other publicly available satellite imagery, and early results indicate that Sentinel-2 imagery can be successfully used for this purpose. Sites were selected based on a multi-decade management effort by federal agencies to plant whitebark pine in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Relative to initial planting records, present-day field sampling affords an opportunity to evaluate whitebark pine performance over time.


Featured photo from Figure 3 in report.