The news on pine beetle outbreak is not necessarily all bad, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado.
Professor William Lewis, interim director of CU's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, is an author of a new study that reports that small trees and other vegetation near waterways that survive pine beetle infestation increase their uptake of nitrate, a pollutant associated with forest disturbances such as logging and severe storms.
Logging activity or storms can drive stream nitrate concentrations up by as much as 400 percent for multiple years, but the study participants did not discover similar levels of nitrate increase concentration in the wake of widespread pine beetle infestations.
"We found that the beetles do not disturb watersheds in the same way as logging and severe storms," Lewis said in a news release.
"They leave behind smaller trees and other understory vegetation, which compensates for the loss of larger pine trees by taking up additional nitrate from the system. Beetle-kill conditions are a good benchmark for the protection of sub-canopy vegetation to preserve water quality during forest management activities."
A paper on the subject was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.