Kelsey Howard's abstract chosen for Research Posters on the Hill 2014

The Office of Undergraduate Research, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of Government Relations have chosen Kelsey Howard's abstract for the annual Research Posters on the Hill to be held Thursday, January 30, 2014 7:00am - 1:30pm at the Utah State Capitol Rotunda.  Her abstract will be published in the Research Posters on the Hill section of the University of Utah Undergraduate Research Abstract Journal for 2014.  She will also be submitting her poster to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) to be held in April 2014 at the University of Kentucky, Lexington.  Way to go, Kelsey! 



Kelsey Howard (Andrea Brunelle, Jennifer Watt)
Geography Department

Anthropogenically caused climate change has significantly influenced the distribution and the ecological dynamics of mountain pine beetles (MPB) in many lodgepole pine forests in the western U.S. Changes in the climate system have allowed MPB populations to increase through the impacts of warming temperatures on beetle reproduction (Logan and Bentz, 1999; Logan and Powell, 2001; Berg et al., 2006). Additionally, favorable conditions such as the presence of drought stressed trees and the impacts of land management on forest composition have created susceptible forests. It is currently estimated that 4 million hectares have been, or are currently being affected by MPB (USDA Forest Service, 2013). Recent occurrence of MPB epidemics have been documented in many western forests, however little is known about the frequency of outbreaks and subsequent impacts to the vegetation beyond the past several hundred years (Watt., 2013). Paleoecological research (Brunelle et al., 2008), has added some knowledge regarding long-term beetle dynamics in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Macrofossils from that record were dated to the 1920/1930 A.D. outbreak, as well as from ca. ~8200 cal yr BP (Brunelle et al., 2008). MPB macrofossils have been difficult to locate in other sites due to deposition and preservation issues. To address this, Watt (2013) adapted a method using pollen data to evaluate Holocene forest compositions. Using this method she also found evidence of a MPB outbreak at ca. ~8200 cal yr BP. The objective of this study is to apply the methods in Watt (2013) to the sites in Brunelle et al. (2008). Three early Holocene outbreaks in the NRM suggests regional synchronicity, similar to what is seen today. Additionally, the early Holocene outbreak is the only outbreak in the last 15,000 years that is comparable to modern outbreaks in scale and magnitude and can provide important information on forest recovery following severe MPB outbreaks.

 KHoward mapsonhill