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NC CSC Adaptation and Decision Making Working Group Webinar

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

If A Tree Falls in the Forest . . . Who Cares? The Case of Whitebark Pine 

Liz Shanahan (Dept. of Political Science, Montana State University)

Abstract; This research examines the factors that (a) shape concern about the loss of whitebark pine trees in the Northern Rockies in the US and (b) are associated with different management in philosophies (e.g., preservation, conservation). The whitebark pine is a keystone species ecologically but is not frequently seen and experienced by people. Climate change conditions have significantly enhanced certain threats to whitebark pine, including mountain pine beetles and white pine blister rust. Up to 80% of larger whitebark pine have died in certain areas of the Northern Rockes as a result. A survey distributed to a random sample of residents (n=1,600) in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming provides the data for analysis. The survey asked about general concern over the loss of whitebark pine and about specific types of loss related to habitat, erosion, seeds, recreation, and species diversity. It also asks about management preferences for the whitebark pine tree in different public lands jurisdictions. The survey also included responses about attitudes toward climate change, political views, demographic and individual characteristics, trust of information sources, New Ecological Paradigm items, and knowledge and experiences realted to whitebark pine. While land managers spend resources on restoring and preserving the whitebark pine, this research provides information aobut how much ecological changes driven by climate change matter to people. 

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