Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Gregory Veeck

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Baker

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa DeChano-Cook

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Laiyin Zhu


Mountain Pine Beetle, habitat suitability, diffusion, species distribution method, environmental change

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) is the most destructive insect currently devastating North American forests (Safranyik & Carroll, 2006). Native to western North America, the mountain pine beetle has recently expanded beyond its historic range, into the novel territory of Alberta, Canada. Since its arrival in the mid-2000s, the mountain pine beetle has diffused eastward at an average rate of 80km/year (Cooke & Carroll, 2017). Poised at the doorstep of the boreal forest, current concern anticipates the potential diffusion of the mountain pine beetle to eastern North America.

The Maxent (maximum entropy) model, a presence-only spatial distribution model, is used to assess changes to future habitat suitability for the mountain pine beetle under future climate scenarios. Both a moderate (RCP 4.5) and extreme (RCP 8.5) emissions scenario are considered for the years 2050 and 2070. Through the application of the Maxent model, this research finds that a changing climate will dramatically decrease mountain pine beetle habitat suitability in Alberta, Canada, regardless of the emissions scenario under consideration. By examining the historical spatial distribution of mountain pine beetle infestation, this research identifies key environmental variables that might be used to predict the future diffusion patterns associated with the mountain pine beetle.

Included in

Geography Commons