Mountain Pine Beetle


Infrared photo of trees in landscape

Yellowstone Ecoregion Mountain Pine Beetle project

A range of wood-boring beetles (including the mountain pine beetle) have affected broad
areas of the Rocky Mountains over the past two decades. These infestations are unprecedented in historical times, and correspond to a period of warming climate that has decreased winter mortality of beetles and led to latitudinal and longitudinal range expansion.  Our objective was to develop an automated and repeatable method to map the timing, extent and severity of beetle-caused mortality in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We calibrated a long Landsat image time series against field measurements of mortality made between 2006 and 2012. We have been able to map the year-to-year progression of beetle-caused forest percent mortality through the ecoregion. This method provides a tool for estimating forest mortality in other locations using similar methods.

bark beetle exiting tree

Bark beetle exiting tree


  • Ken Raffa  and Erinn Powell, Department of Entomology, UW-Madison
  • Monica Turner, Department of Zoology, UW-Madison