Coniferous Forests

Whitebark pine
Pinus albicaulis
Mountain pine beetle
Dendroctonus ponderosae
Photo by Dion Manastyrski
New lodgepole pine 20 years after a fire in Yellowstone National Park

The content of this page supplements chapters 11 and 12 in Mountains and Plains (2nd edition).  Readers with questions are encouraged to contact us.

Living with Wildfire

The Wyoming State Forestry Division, in collaboration with the University of Wyoming, has published the following booklet on landscaping designs that can reduce the threat of wildfires.  It is available at  Living with Wildfire in Wyoming.

Ecological implications of climate change on Rocky Mountain forests

This topic received considerable attention in 2015.  One series of reports appeared in the journal Yellowstone Science (March, 2015) and included a paper by William Romme and Monica Turner, who had written on this topic in 1992.  Another report, written by Corinna Riginos and Mark Newcomb, was published by the Jackson-based Charture Institute ( and was summarized in WyoFile (  These reports project dramatic changes in forests and associated wildlife in the GYE during the next 50 to 100 years. 

Governor's Task Force on Forests

Concerns about drought, large fires, bark beetles, invasive species, and rural residential developments led to the appointment by Governor Mead of a multi-agency task force on forests.  The final report can be viewed at

Bark Beetles

For an excellent introduction to the biology, ecology, and management of bark beetles in Rocky Mountain coniferous forests, see the series of short videos titled Our Future Forests: Beyond Bark Beetles (

How could red squirrels affect the character of a coniferous forest?

For an answer to this question, see page 179 in the 2nd edition and the article by Shauna Stephenson in the March 2015 issue of Wyoming Wildlife.

Climate and large fires

Stephens, S. I., N. Burrows, A. Buyantuyev et al. 2014. Temperate and boreal forest mega-fires: characteristics and challenges. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12:115-122.

Knight, D. H. 2014. The ancient history and uncertain future of western forests. Western Confluence 2:29.