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Antibus, Robert K. [1], Cripps, Cathy [2].

White bark Pine Decline in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Lessons learned from birds, bears and the precious dust of Galadriel.

Whitebark pine is considered a keystone species providing a wide range of ecosystem services in high elevation systems in the northern Rocky Mountains. In the past decade whitebark pine population shave undergone significant declines in the northern part of their range. These declines are brought about by a number of factors including: white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, fire suppression and climate change. In response to these observations research inthe Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has focused on monitoring population health,examining management practices and working at seedling production and replanting methods. Whitebark pine, like other pines, is likely highly dependent on ectomycorrhizal (ECM) associates for establishment and growth. The remoteness of whitebark pine stands and the lack of commercial value have resulted in few studies regarding mycorrhizal associates of whitebark pine. Harsh rocky sites, variable snowpacks and short growing seasons add to the challenge of studying the mycorrhizal associates.Given that whitebark pine is North Americas only member of the stone pines relatively little is known concerning the kinds of fungi, their distribution,ecology, physiology and functional role in the host's life cycle. Here we will report the results of studies on the occurrence, physiology and application of ectomycorrhizal associates of both whitebark pine and another threatened high elevation species - limber pine. These studies have allowed us to develop lists of putative ECM fungi based on occurrence of above ground fruiting bodies. Stable isotope analyses on preserved fruiting bodies have been employed to expand our knowledge of the ecology of these fungi;and preserved sporocarps and DNA will permit future work on the systematics of these fungi. Our work with pure cultures has allowed us to explore intraspecific as well as interspecific patterns of nitrogen source by ECM across a range of sites. We'll discuss how this work relates to similar work done by Gerwin Keller with the European stone pine Pinus cembra. Through a combination of field, lab and greenhouse studies we're just beginning to develop a picture of the importance of various ECM fungi in these unique and beautiful high elevation systems. The threat posed by climate change and anthropogenic impacts make it imperative that we garner the support for and the interest of dedicated, creative researchers to continue to address the specific challenges presented by high elevation and high latitude communities.

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1 - Bluffton University, Department of Biology, Bluffton, OH, 45817, USA
2 - Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Bozeman , MT, 59717

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Presentation Type: Special Presentation
Session: S3
Location: Franklin C and D/Hyatt
Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: S3001
Abstract ID:1194

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