September 2, 2010
BOULDER – Professor Jeff Mitton of the CU-Boulder Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department is hitting the road this year in an effort to educate Coloradans about the state’s pine beetle epidemic and the devastating toll the small insects are taking on Colorado’s forests.
The mountain pine beetle is in the midst of its largest epidemic in recorded history. The geographic infestation extends more than 1,000 miles, from New Mexico to the Yukon Territory. Mitton will visit eight Colorado communities where he will offer a public presentation on the life history of pine beetles and describe the struggle between attacking beetles and trees.
In addition to describing how tiny beetles can kill immense trees, he will discuss the role climate change has played in creating the epidemic. Small shifts in climate have expanded the geographic range in which pine beetles can thrive and extended their life cycle from one generation per year to two. Professor Mitton will also explain a surge in the populations of beetle predators, offering some hope for Colorado’s forests.
Mitton’s tour is sponsored by LearnMoreAboutClimate.colorado.edu, an online tool developed by CU-Boulder faculty and area scientists working in conjunction with the Office for University Outreach, which features five videos that localize climate change by pairing interviews with leading scientists and everyday Coloradans to explain how climate change is affecting our state. The site also offers teacher-developed and –tested model lessons for middle and high school students, including one that focuses on the pine beetle epidemic. The lessons are available at Learn More About Climate by clicking the “For Educators” tab.
During the fall semester, Mitton will make presentations at the following venues:
• Thursday, September 23, 2010 – The Longmont Public Library at 7 p.m.
• Tuesday, September 28, 2010 – Fort Lewis College Noble Hall, Room 125 at 7 p.m. in Durango
• Friday, October 1, 2010 – Blue Sage Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. in Paonia
• Tuesday, November 2, 2010 – Trinidad State Junior College in the Massari Theatre at 7 p.m.
The tour will resume during the spring semester with visits to Silverthorne, Vail, and Alamosa. The dates and locations of these presentations have yet to be finalized.
All presentations are free and open to the public.
CONTACT: Wynn Martens