Title page for ETD etd-06282011-220742

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Franklin, Lauren Nicole
Author's Email Address lfrankli@vt.edu
URN etd-06282011-220742
Title Landscape pattern and blister rust infection in whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) at alpine treeline, Northern Rocky Mountains, U.S.A.
Degree Master of Science
Department Geography
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Resler, Lynn M. Committee Chair
Campbell, James B. Jr. Committee Member
Carroll, David F. Committee Member
  • remote sensing
  • white pine blister rust
  • landscape pathology
  • weather stations
  • Landscape ecology
Date of Defense 2011-06-15
Availability restricted
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a foundation and keystone species at alpine treelines of the northern Rocky Mountains and is threatened by the fungus white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola). This disease affects all five-needled white pines, but has caused particularly widespread mortality in whitebark pine. Objectives of this research were: 1) to characterize the landscape structure of the treeline study sites at Divide Mountain in Glacier National Park and at Wyoming Creek in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana using landscape metrics and fieldwork; 2) to determine the frequency of blister rust infection of whitebark pine trees and determine if landscape pattern is correlated with higher infection rates; and 3) to characterize the climate at alpine treeline. I used both field surveys and subsequent statistical analysis to meet these objectives. Field data collection included detailed surveys of blister rust infection of treeline whitebark pine and characterization of landscape cover type in a combined total of 60 quadrats, positioned at the study sites using a random sampling scheme stratified by aspect. Landscape analysis of metrics such as patch area, proximity and contagion were generated in FRAGSTATS software and ArcGIS. Spearman’s rank correlation analysis found significant correlations between tree island patch size, patch perimeter, and percent of landscape and blister rust infection intensity at both study sites. These findings support previous research involving the relationship between patch area and blister rust

infection rates and contribute to the field of landscape ecology by understanding what other landscape metrics are significant in invasive disease infection patterns.

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