A study funded by the National Science Foundation show that episodes of reduced precipitation in the Southern Rocky Mountains, especially during the 2001-2002 drought, greatly accelerated a rise in numbers of mountain pine beetles. The overabundance is a threat to regional forests. The research is the first to chart the evolution of the current pine beetle epidemic in the southern Rocky Mountains.
A paper on the subject is published in the current issue of the journal Ecology. The current mountain pine beetle outbreak in the Southern Rockies--which ranges from southern Wyoming through Colorado and into northern New Mexico--is estimated to have affected almost 3,000 square miles of forests.