Understanding the Mountain Pine Beetle

This lesson plan has students working in small groups to research the Mountain Pine Beetle in Colorado and other inter-mountain Western states. Students identify the factors that control pine beetle population and research how warmer winters and decreasing spring snowpack allow the population of pine beetles to expand.

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Melissa Barker
Jim Moulton
Barbara Keith
Cheryl Manning
Learnmoreaboutclimate, University of Colorado, Boulder

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Teaching Tips

Teaching Tips

Possible misconceptions are listed, but educator needs to make sure these misconceptions are addressed; the lesson design doesn't provide an obvious path to address them. Students learn about the biology of the Mountain Pine Beetle and how warmer conditions allow it to experience explosive population growth patterns.

If computer access is not available, the research part can be assigned as homework. Active guidance at the beginning of this research project would make it the most successful.

Have students annotate their presentations to indicate the source of their information to ensure that the data is from credible sources.

Among the resources are additional lesson plans for the same topic.

Extend discussion to incorporate possible human causes.

This resource focuses on the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but the same activity could be used in different parts of the country to examine other pine bark beetles, such as the Southern Pine Bark Beetle, using different data resources.