Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012MT265B

Nutrient dynamics and ecosystem function in coupled aquatic-terrestrial ecosystems during a mountain pine beetle infestation of whitebark pine

Institute: Montana
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $13,785 Total Non-Federal Funds: $27,700

Principal Investigators: Laurie Marczak

Abstract: A climate change induced mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak is radically altering high elevation habitats dominated by whitebark pine (WbP) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem over an extremely short time period. We propose to link to ongoing research on terrestrial biogeochemical responses to determine how this massive change will alter rates of detrital processing and food web structure in high elevation stream systems. We will determine the effects of MPB infestation in whitebark pine ecosystems on rates of aquatic organic matter processing and nutrient cycling through: (1) a spatially extensive survey and sampling exercise to document the source and quantity of whitebark pine litter inputs and storage across multiple streams and (2) a survey of decomposition in relation to MPB altered litter quality in streams flowing through MPB infested WbP.