Raising awareness about Whitebark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) and contributing data to further our understanding of an imperiled ecosystem.
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), a high-elevation tree species found across western North America, was recently listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Whitebark pine is a keystone species in the upper montane and subalpine areas where it occurs, meaning other species in an ecosystem largely depend on it, to such a degree that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically. The threats to whitebark pine are many, and include white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, climate change, and wildfire.
How you can help
Two ways that you can help are becoming a member and donating to the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation, and joining and contributing observations and identifications to the Whitebark Pine iNaturalist Project. See below for additional details, including:
- Best practices for documenting whitebark pine
- Best practices for uploading observations to iNaturalist
- Representative photos of whitebark pine
- An identification guide to the 5 needle pines of western North America
- Mapping Whitebark Pine using Citizen-Science Data: A Pilot Study
Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation
Whitebark Pine iNaturalist Project
This is a citizen-science project to 1) raise awareness about whitebark pine, and 2) contribute data to ongoing and future whitebark pine research.
Contribute observations and provide identifications on iNaturalist here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/the-whitebark-pine-project
When making observations of whitebark pine in the field please:
- Needles: Make note and take pictures of the number of needles per fascicle, i.e., the bundles of needles on the branches (Figure 1),
- Cones: Look for cones in the tree or cones or cones fragments on the ground around the tree and take pictures (Figures 2-6), and
- Pests/Damage/Disease: Take pictures and make note of any recent damage to the tree, or signs of disease or pests (Figures 7-9).
- Entire tree: Take photos of the entire tree.
- Branches: Take closeup photos of the branches.
- Trunk: Take a photos of the trunk of the tree.
- Bark: Take closeup photos of the bark.
Uploading Observations to iNaturalist
When uploading observations of whitebark pine to iNaturalist please upload all the photos described above, and add the following Observation Fields:
- Needles/fascicle (integer): enter the number of needles per fascicle.
- Cones shown? (text): Are there cones or cone fragments shown in the photos? Enter yes, no, possibly
- Pest/disease (text): Was there evidence of pests or disease affecting the whitebark pine under observation? If no then enter “none”; if you aren’t sure enter “unknown”, and if yes then enter the common name of the pest or disease (e.g., mountain pine beetle, white pine blister rust, top kill).
**Photos on this page are by Aaron Wells unless otherwise noted.
Representative Photos of Whitebark Pine
Stay tuned, there’s more to come soon on The Whitebark Pine Project!
Contact us and stay informed about The Whitebark Pine Project.