Researchers at the University of Colorado say climate change appears to impact pinyon pine reproduction, according to a release. They found the trees are producing fewer pine cones — about 40 percent less over 40 years.
Weather stations at the study’s nine sites logged an increase of about 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the study’s timespan, providing a clear correlation between rising temperatures and lower pine cone production.
The study is one of the few to look at climate’s impact on a tree species that doesn’t reproduce annually, but instead sheds cones in large quantities every few years. Researchers say the pinyon pine sheds every three to seven years. Its cones contain edible pine nuts, which not only serve as the tree’s seed, but also a food source to local wildlife.