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Summary

The preceding articles in this series review the history, biology and management of white pine blister rust in North America, Europe and eastern Asia. In this integration, we connect and discuss seven recurring themes important for understanding and managing epidemics of Cronartium ribicola in the white pines (five-needle pines in subgenus Strobus). Information and action priorities for research and management of the pathogen, telial and aecial hosts, and their interactions are listed in a detailed Appendix. Syntheses focused on genetics, plant disease, invasive species or forest management have provided alternative but knowledgeable lessons on the white pine blister rust pathosystem. Two critical issues for the conservation of white pines are to sustain ecosystems affected by blister rust and to maintain genetic diversity for adaptive traits such as disease resistance. Forest genetics includes tree improvement and molecular techniques for research; their application can increase rust resistance by artificial and natural selection. Silviculture augments genetics with methods to deploy and enhance resistance as well as to regenerate and tend white pine stands. Although cultivated or wild Ribes might serve as inoculum sources, silviculture and horticulture can reduce the risk of serious impacts from blister rust using genetics for breeding and epidemiology for hazard assessment and disease control. Climate change threatens to cause major alterations in temperature and precipitation regimes, resulting in maladapted conifers succumbing to various diseases and insect outbreaks. In contrast, many white pine species have broad ecological ranges and are tolerant of harsh environments—traits that permit successful establishment and growth over wide geographic and altitudinal zones. Given appropriate management, white pines could thrive as valuable commercial and ecologically important keystone species. In an uncertain environment, adaptive management provides a learning and participatory approach for sustaining resilient ecosystems.