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Whitebark Pine Trees: Is Their Future At Risk?

There's trouble ahead for the whitebark pine, a mountain tree that's integral to wildlife and water resources in the western United States and Canada. Over the last decade, some populations of whitebark pines have declined by more than 90 percent. But these declines may be just the beginning. New research results, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published today in the Journal of Ecology, suggest that as pine stands are increasingly fragmented by widespread tree death, surviving trees may be hindered in their ability to produce their usually abundant seeds. "With fewer seeds, you get less regeneration," says ecologist Joshua Rapp, affiliated with NSF's Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research site and lead author of the paper.

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