The Sierra Nevada are home to a high diversity of white pines (five different species) that provide important ecosystem services. Low elevation sugar pines (P. lambertiana) to high elevation whitebark pines (P. albicaulis) support wildlife through their large, fatty pine nuts, and help maintain the health of their ecosystems through carbon sequestration and water cycling services.
All white pines in the Sierra Nevada are threatened by an invasive fungus called white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), as well as beetles (primarily Dendroctonus spp.) and drought. Over the past five years, I have been leading crews into the backcountry of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to survey long-term monitoring plots. Together with my collaborators, we are developing a manuscript describing the current status of white pines in the southern Sierra.