A new study found that Great Basin bristlecone pines, the longest living non-clonal tree species, have evolved to withstand to the mortal impacts of the mountain pine beetle epidemic.
The scientists discovered that not only is Great Basin bristlecone pine less susceptible than other high elevation pine species, but that mountain pine beetles are not killing this species at all. By contrast, mountain pine beetles in the same areas killed large numbers of limber pines.
Great Basin bristlecone pine had eight times the level of chemical resin defenses than limber pines and also had greater wood density. High resin content and high wood density are traits that also aid in the extreme longevity of bristlecone pines, which can live to be more than 5000 years old. Lead #RockyMountainResearchStation scientist Dr. Barbara Bentz said, "extreme longevity and past evolutionary experiences have helped this species survive current pressures in a changing climate.