In coming decades, warmer winters are likely to ease range constraints on many cold-limited forest insects1,2,3,4,5. Recent unprecedented expansion of the southern pine beetle (SPB, Dendroctonus frontalis) into New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in concert with warming annual temperature minima highlights the risk that this insect pest poses to the pine forests of the northern United States and Canada under continued climate change6. Here we present projections of northward expansion in SPB-suitable climates using a statistical bioclimatic range modelling approach and current-generation general circulation model output under Representative Concentration Pathways 4.5 and 8.5. Results show that by the middle of the twenty-first century, the climate is likely to be suitable for SPB expansion into vast areas of previously unaffected forests throughout the northeastern United States and into southeastern Canada. This scenario would pose a significant economic and ecological risk to the affected regions, including disruption of local ecosystem services7, shifts in forest structure8, and threats to native biodiversity9.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Paradis, A., Elkinton, J., Hayhoe, K. & Buonaccorsi, J. Role of winter temperature and climate change on the survival and future range expansion of the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) in eastern North America. Mitig. Adapt. Strateg. Glob. Change 13, 541–554 (2008).
Ogden, N. H. et al. Climate change and the potential for range expansion of the Lyme disease vector Ixodes scapularis in Canada. Int. J. Parasitol. 36, 63–70 (2006).
Rochlin, I., Ninivaggi, D. V., Hutchinson, M. L. & Farajollahi, A. Climate change and range expansion of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in Northeastern USA: implications for public health practitioners. PLoS ONE 8, 1–9 (2013).
Ungerer, M. J., Ayres, M. P. & Lombardero, M. J. Climate and the northern distribution limits of Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann (Coleoptera: Scolytidae). J. Biogeogr. 26, 1133–1145 (1999).
Williams, D. W. & Liebhold, A. M. Climate change and the outbreak ranges of two North American bark beetles. Agric. For. Entomol. 4, 87–99 (2002).
Dodds, K. J. & Krist, F. Destructive Southern Pine Beetle Begins Invading Northeastern Forests – GIS Story Map (2015); http://usfs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=3dfab0794d5e4f0f886590da8765f4f5
Mikkelson, K. M. et al. Bark beetle infestation impacts on nutrient cycling, water quality and interdependent hydrological effects. Biogeochemistry 115, 1–21 (2013).
Harrington, T. B., Xu, M. G. & Edwards, M. B. Structural characteristics of late-successional pine-hardwood forest following recent infestation by southern pine beetle in the Georgia Piedmont, USA. Nat. Areas J. 20, 360–365 (2000).
Wagner, D., Nelson, M. W. & Schweitzer, D. F. Shrubland Lepidoptera of southern New England and southeastern New York: ecology, conservation, and management. For. Ecol. Manag. 185, 95–112 (2003).
Pye, J. M., Price, T. S., Clarke, S. R. & Huggett, R. J. A History of Southern Pine Beetle Outbreaks in the Southeastern United States through 2004 (USFS Southern Research Station, 2008).
USFS Forest Health Highlights – New Jersey (Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, 2014).
Beal, J. A. Temperature extremes as a factor in the ecology of the southern Pine Beetle. J. Forest. 31, 329–336 (1933).
Lombardero, M. J., Ayres, M. P., Ayres, B. D. & Reeve, J. D. Cold tolerance of four species of bark beetle (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) in North America. Environ. Entomol. 29, 421–432 (2000).
Trân, J. K., Ylioja, T., Billings, R. F., Régnière, J. & Ayres, M. P. Impact of minimum winter temperatures on the population dynamics of Dendroctonus frontalis. Ecol. Appl. 17, 882–899 (2007).
Horton, R. et al. Chapter 16: Northeast. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment 371–395 (United States Global Research Program, 2014).
Sillmann, J., Kharin, V. V., Zwiers, F. W., Zhang, X. & Bronaugh, D. Climate extremes indices in the CMIP5 multimodel ensemble: Part 2. Future climate projections. J. Geophys. Res. 118, 2473–2493 (2013).
Horton, R. M., Coffel, E. D., Winter, J. M., Bader, D. A. & Al, H. E. T. Projected changes in extreme temperature events based on the NARCCAP model suite. Geophys. Res. Lett. 42, 1–10 (2015).
Nowak, J. T., Meeker, J. R., Coyle, D. R., Steiner, C. A. & Brownie, C. Southern Pine Beetle infestations in relation to forest stand conditions, previous thinning, southern Pine Beetle prevention program. J. Forest. 113, 1–9 (2015).
Ayres, M. P., Martinson, S. J. & Friedenberg, N. A. The Southern Pine Beetle Encyclopedia 75–89 (USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, 2011).
Iverson, L. R. & Mckenzie, D. Tree-species range shifts in a changing climate: detecting, modeling, assisting. Landsc. Ecol. 28, 879–889 (2013).
Wang, W. J., He, H. S., Thompson, F. R., Jacob, I. I. I. & Dijak, W. D. Changes in forest biomass and tree species distribution under climate change in the northeastern United States. Landsc. Ecol. 32, 1399–1413 (2016).
Thatcher, R. C., Searcy, J. L., Coster, J. E. & Hertel, G. D. The Southern Pine Beetle (United States Forest Service Science and Education Administration, 1980).
Turchin, P. & Thoeny, W. T. Quantifying dispersal of southern Pine Beetles with mark recapture experiments and a diffusion-model. Ecol. Appl. 3, 187–198 (1993).
Jackson, P. L., Straussfogel, D., Lindgren, B. S., Mitchell, S. & Murphy, B. Radar observation and aerial capture of mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopk. (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) in flight above the forest canopy. Can. J. Forest Res. 38, 2313–2327 (2008).
Berg, E. E., David Henry, J., Fastie, C. L., De Volder, A. D. & Matsuoka, S. M. Spruce beetle outbreaks on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, and Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon Territory: relationship to summer temperatures and regional differences in disturbance regimes. For. Ecol. Manag. 227, 219–232 (2006).
Kolb, T. E. et al. Observed and anticipated impacts of drought on forest insects and diseases in the United States. For. Ecol. Manag. 380, 321–334 (2016).
Lorio, P. L., Stephen, F. M. & Paine, T. D. Environment and ontogeny modify loblolly pine response to induced acute water deficits and bark beetle attack. For. Ecol. Manag. 73, 97–110 (1995).
Sullivan, B. T., Fettig, C. J., Otrosina, W. J., Dalusky, M. J. & Berisford, C. W. Association between severity of prescribed burns and subsequent activity of conifer-infesting beetles in stands of longleaf pine. For. Ecol. Manag. 185, 327–340 (2003).
Wolcott, A. B. Catalogue of North American beetles of the Family Cleridae. Fieldiana Zoology (Chicago Natural History Museum, 1947).
Collins, M. et al. in Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. F. et al.) (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).
Mesinger, F. et al. North American Regional Reanalysis. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 87, 343–360 (2006).
USFS Forest Health Protection and its Partners (USDA Forest Service, 2015).
Taylor, K. E., Stouffer, R. J. & Meehl, G. a. An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 93, 485–498 (2012).
Moss, R. H. et al. The next generation of scenarios for climate change research and assessment. Nature 463, 747–756 (2010).
Kanamitsu, M. et al. NCEP–DOE AMIP-II Reanalysis (R-2). Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 83, 1631–1643 (2002).
Gordon, H. et al. The CSIRO Mk3 climate system model. CSIRO Atmos. Res. Tech. Pap. 60, 1–130 (2002).
Prasad, A. M. & Iverson, L. R. Little’s Range and FIA Importance Value Database for 135 Eastern US Tree Species (Northeastern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 2003).
Wilson, B. T., Lister, A. J., Riemann, R. I. & Griffith, D. M. Live Tree Species Basal Area of the Contiguous United States (2000–2009) (USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2013).
We acknowledge the World Climate Research Programme’s Working Group on Coupled Modelling, which is responsible for CMIP, and we thank the climate modelling groups for producing and making available their model output. For CMIP, the US Department of Energy’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison provides coordinating support and led development of software infrastructure in partnership with the Global Organization for Earth System Science Portals. US Department of Interior Northeast Climate Science Center provided funding for this research along with support from the National Science Foundation grant DGE-11-44155.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Lesk, C., Coffel, E., D’Amato, A. et al. Threats to North American forests from southern pine beetle with warming winters. Nature Clim Change 7, 713–717 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate3375
Landscape Ecology (2021)
Climatic Change (2021)
Nature Climate Change (2020)
Climatic Change (2020)
Electrophysiological and behavioral responses Dendroctonus frontalis and D. terebrans (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) to resin odors of host pines (Pinus spp.)