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Published on Sep 8, 2010
Mountain pine beetles are native to Western forests, but in recent years their numbers have skyrocketed. As they damage more trees and kill whole regions of forest, some worry that the dead forest left behind has become a tinderbox ready to burn. But do pine beetles really increase fire risk?Using Landsat satellite data, University of Wisconsin forest ecologist Phil Townsend and his team are discovering that pine beetle damage appears not to have a significant impact in the risk of large fires. In fact, it might even reduce fire risk in some instances.