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MPB Infestation Impacts on Water Quality and Supply
Researchers from Colorado State University (CSU) and the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) are participating in this 5-year, $3 million National Science Foundation-funded study. The CSU members of the team, John Stednick, Ph.D. (FRS), Stuart Cottrell, Ph.D. (HDNR), and Kathie Mattor, Ph.D. (HDNR postdoctoral research fellow), are focusing on the social science component of the study, along with CSM's Eric Dickenson, Ph.D. Additional CSM colleagues are contributing their expertise in geology, hydrology, biogeochemistry, modeling, and other disciplines.
The objective is to determine potential water resource changes resulting from the mountain pine beetle (MPB) infestation by defining and quantifying feedbacks between changes in climate, forested ecosystems altered by MPB impacts, biogeochemical processes, and resource management practices.
Beetle-killed trees will alter hydrologic and biogeochemical processes that govern water quantity and quality in forested headwater catchments. When coupled with natural resource management practices, these changes can potentially affect the ability to fulfill downstream water user demands and challenge ecological and human health needs.
This project is directly addressing the social and physical science factors that govern water resource availability and quality under ecological and climate change. Concern about beetle-killed forest and watershed management is driving municipalities to potentially implement water rate increases, and there is confusion about how to most effectively improve watershed health as it relates to this issue.
Our highly interdisciplinary CSU and CSM research team will merge field observations, laboratory experiments, integrated hydrologic models, and high-performance computing to increase our understanding and predictive capabilities for a critical problem facing society: changes to water availability and quality from an unprecedented disturbance to our forests.
This work is complimented by place-based collaborative learning for impacted communities and workshops with water stakeholders. These workshops are two-way and serve to both understand concerns and experiences with MPB impacts, as well as communicate results. Integration of stakeholder perceptions and management responses will further inform and enrich our scientific analysis of water supply and contribute to the uniqueness of the team's research vision.
In addition to stakeholder outreach and scenario planning, we will develop modules that convey key water resource issues to K-12 teachers and students as well as provide training, research, and educational opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars.
This study will provide an improved scientific basis for managing impacted watershed ecosystems in the Platte and Colorado River basins, thus helping to ensure safe and reliable water resources to more than 30 million residential users and 1.8 million acres of irrigated agriculture. It will also improve our scientific and social understanding of the water supply and quantity challenges for MPB-impacted areas across the Rocky Mountain West.
Thanks again for visiting!
Stuart Cottrell, PhD
Colorado State University
John Stednick, PhD
Colorado State University
Kathie Mattor, PhD
Colorado State University
Eric Dickenson, PhD
Colorado School of Mines
The following section provides additional information on the study and related activities. Several members of the CSU and CSM research team have been active not only in this study, but other studies that also have a direct connection to our team's examination of the MPB and water resources. Please check back regularly to see additional postings.
Media outreach for the CSU and CSM MPB study:
Recently, NBC Learn and National Geographic featured the research team and project as part of a series on water sustainability. Visit the following links to see the reports:
The Weather Channel also profiled the research team on a segment covering the MPB's impact on water supplies:
General information about the CSU and CSM MPB study:
Visit the following links to get additional information on this study:
Peer-reviewed publications by CSU and CSM social science team members:
Czaja, M. (2014). Wildland fire management: Movement towards enabling resiliency? In A. Masys (Ed.), Disaster management: Enabling resilience. (In press, publication by Springer scheduled for 2014).
Czaja, M., & Cottrell, S. (2014). Integrating social science research into wildland fire management. Disaster Prevention and Management, 23(4), 381 − 394.
Mikkelson, K., Bearup, L., Maxwell, R., Stednick, J., McCray, J., & Sharp, J. (2013). Bark beetle infestation impacts on nutrient cycling, water quality and interdependent hydrological effects. Biogeochemistry, 115, 1 − 21. doi: 10.1007/s10533-013-9875-8.
http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/docs/hdnr/Mikkelson et al 2013.pdf
Mikkelson K., Dickenson, E., McCray, J., Maxwell, R., & Sharp J. (2013). Water-quality impacts from climate-induced forest die-off. Nature Climate Change, 3, 218 − 222. doi: 10.1038/nclimate1724.
http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/docs/hdnr/Nature Climate Change Mikkelson 2013.pdf
Mikkelson, K., Maxwell, R., Ferguson, I., Stednick, J., McCray, J., & Sharp, J. (2013). Mountain pine beetle infestation impacts: Modeling water and energy budgets at the hill-slope scale. Ecohydrology, 6(1), 64 − 72.
http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/docs/hdnr/Ecohydrology Mikkelson et al 2013.pdf
Rhoades, C., McCutchan, J., Cooper, L., Clow, D., Detmer, T., Briggs, J., Stednick, J., Veblen, T., Ertz, R., Likens, G., & Lewis, M. (2013). Biogeochemistry of beetle-killed forests: Explaining a weak nitrate response. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1221029110.
http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/docs/hdnr/Rhoades et al PNAS 2013.pdf
Reviewed conference proceedings:
Cottrell, S., Stednick, J., Czaja, M., & Dickenson, E. (2014, October). Public perceptions of mountain pine beetle effects on natural resources in the Rocky Mountain Region. Presented at Pathways 2014: Common Futures, Estes Park, CO.
Cottrell, S., Czaja, M., Stednick, J., & Dickenson, E. (2014, April). Public perceptions of mountain pine beetle effects on drinking water. Presented at the 26th Annual Northeast Recreation Research Symposium, Cooperstown, NY.
Technical reports and outreach for this and related MPB studies conducted by team members:
Gebert, K., Jones, G., Champ, P., Czaja, M., Oliver, C., Cruz, P., & Clement, J. (2014). Beetles among us: Social and economic impacts of the MPB epidemic. In M. Matonis, R. Hubbard, K. Gebert, B. Hahn, S. Miller, & C. Regan (Eds.), Future Forests Webinar Series, Webinar Proceedings and Summary: Ongoing Research and Management Responses to the Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak (Proceedings RMRS-P-70, pp. 49 − 60). Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.
Czaja, M., & Cottrell, S. (2013). Research findings: Public perceptions of the mountain pine beetle in three study areas in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. HazNet, Canadian Risk and Hazards Network, 5(1), 31 − 34.
Czaja, M., Cottrell, S., Bright, A., & Clement, J. (2012). Public Perceptions of the Mountain Pine Beetle in Three Study Areas in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming. Technical report submitted to the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service, Fort Collins, CO.
http://warnercnr.colostate.edu/docs/hdnr/MPB_Tech Report_12 Dec.pdf
Future Forest Webinar Series, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO, 2012. “Public Perceptions of the Mountain Pine Beetle Impact in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.”