The potential for mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), to expand its historical range in North America from west of the continental divide into the eastern boreal forest was assessed on the basis of analyses of the effects of climate and weather on brood development and survival, and key aspects of the interaction of mountain pine beetle with its hosts and associated organisms. Variation in climate suitability and high host susceptibility in the boreal forest create a finite risk of establishment and local persistence of low-level mountain pine beetle populations outside their historical range. Eventually, these populations could become widespread and cause epidemic infestations, creating an ecological pathway eastward through the boreal forest. Such infestations would reduce the commercial value of forests and impose an additional disturbance on native ecological systems.
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