Bark beetle has ‘little impact’ on US water supply

A study of more than 30 watersheds across the western US has cast doubt on the idea that an epidemic of bark beetles has been affecting water supplies.

Researchers at the Colorado School of Mines, US, found no evidence that outbreaks of the mountain pine beetle have affected peak or average daily streamflows in seven western US states. Instead, the authors believe that changes in streamflow patterns are caused by climatic variability.

“When we did not find a consistent pattern of change in the watersheds impacted [by the mountain pine beetle], we decided to dig a little deeper to see if we could explain why some watersheds were significantly impacted while others weren’t,” said Kimberly Slinski. “This study doesn’t provide conclusive proof that rainfall and temperature patterns are driving the streamflow patterns, but the data clearly show that [they] are related.” […]

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