Wyoming Ecological Services
Mountain-Prairie Region

Federally Listed, Proposed & Candidate Species | Species of Concern | Migratory Birds | All Species By County

 

 

Federally Listed, Proposed and Candidate Species

 

Whitebark Pine
(Pinus albicaulis)

Status: Candidate

Whitebark PinePhoto Credit: USFS - Richard Sniezko

 

Whitebark Pine Area Of Influence

Section 7 Range Symbol

Wyoming Area Of Influence
Whitebark Pine

Potential Distribution in Wyoming

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Area Of Influence

Areas Of Influence (AOI) identify areas where any project located within should consider potential effects to the Threatened, Endangered, Proposed, and Candidate species and designated and proposed Critical Habitat, in reference to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.  AOI typically encompass larger areas than simply where the species is known to exist because of direct and indirect effects to the species and their habitat.  It is important to consider potential effects to the species and their habitat within these larger areas.  Action agencies are encouraged to refer to the Service’s Information, Planning, and Conservation System (IPAC) or contact the FWS Wyoming Ecological Services Office for additional information.  (AOI boundaries based on the best available data at time of development.  AOI will be updated as new information becomes available).

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Species Information

Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a candidate for listing under the ESA (76 FR 42631; July 19, 2011).  In Wyoming, whitebark pine usually occurs above 8000 feet on cold and windy subalpine to alpine sites.  Whitebark pineis a five-needle pine that is typically 16 to 66 feet tall with a rounded or irregularly spreading crown shape.  When located in relatively dense stands of conifers, whitebark pinestend to grow as tall, single-stemmed trees.  In open, more exposed sites, trees frequently have multiple stems.  Above tree line, the species grows in a krummholz form (stunted, shrub-like growth).  Dark brown to purple seed cones grow at the outer ends of upper branches and are 2 to 3 inches long.  The scales of the cones are thick and do not open on their own.  Whitebark pine is almost exclusively dependent upon Clark’s nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana), a bird in the family Corvidae (whose members include ravens, crows, and jays), to open its cones and disperse the seeds.

The presence of whitebark pine promotes increased biodiversity and contributes to critical ecosystem functions.  Whitebark pine is frequently the first conifer to establish after disturbances such as wildfires.  Snow drifts form around whitebark pine trees, thereby increasing soil moisture, modifying soil temperatures, and holding soil moisture longer.  The shade from whitebark pine trees slows the progression of snowmelt, reducing spring flooding at lower elevations.  Whitebark pine also provides highly nutritious seeds for numerous species of birds and mammals.

Major threats to whitebark pine include mortality from disease caused by the nonnative white pine blister rust, predation by the native mountain pine beetle, climate change, habitat loss from past and ongoing fire suppression activities, and the combined negative effects of these individual threats.

Additional Information and Recent Actions

Last updated: June 13, 2014