In today’s world of changing climates and unnatural human transport of pathogens and pests, a species’ survival relies on its adaptability more than ever. Easy-going temperaments and flexibility aren’t the types of adaptive natures a species needs. A species needs genetic diversity so that within its populations certain traits already exist that can help it adapt to and survive new threats. The U.S. Forest Service is a leader in realizing the need to conserve genetic diversity and operates genetic conservation programs to maintain it within tree species.
White pine blister rust is an exotic disease people accidentally introduced to North America over 100 years ago can infect all nine white pine species: western white pine, sugar pine, whitebark pine, limber pine, foxtail pine, southwestern white pine, eastern white pine, Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, and Great Basin bristlecone pine.