Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation (WPEF)

We are a science-based non-profit dedicated to counteracting the decline of whitebark pine and enhancing knowledge about the value of its ecosystems.


[email protected]

Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation
PO Box 17943
Missoula, Montana 59808

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Request for Distributional Data: Data Call 1


The development of the National Whitebark Pine Restoration Plan (NWPRP) is a multi-agency effort organized by the U.S. Forest Service in collaboration with American Forests and the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation. This effort recognizes that rangewide declines in whitebark pine require a strategic national response.

The foundation of the NWPRP is the identification of essential core areas in need of restoration, according to biological criteria to be named in a later data call. These “core areas” will serve to focus agency resources and target NGO fund-raising to restore a critical number of whitebark pine populations to insure the future survival of the species.

To facilitate identification of core areas, some land management agencies and tribal jurisdictions require additional data on whitebark pine distribution for accurate assessments.  Some of these data have been compiled and made available, but we are also missing additional data sources that exist as records within individual agencies, organizations, and may be in the possession of researchers.

New and updated distributional and health status information will be used as follows:  (1) To fill-in distributional gaps, especially correcting areas where whitebark pine is currently absent; (2) to revise the current coarse-scale (1 km2) spatial data layers made available to agencies; and (3) to develop other layers incorporating health status, such as percent rust and beetle infection and mortality.  The target deadline for distributional information is May 15, 2018.

Data Types Requested

For Data Call 1, there are different data types that are being collected for this NWPRP effort: spatial layers and plot data. Spatial layers include GIS layers of whitebark pine distribution and abundance. Plot data are georeferenced plot-based field measurements of whitebark pine abundance and health across its range.  We are asking that plot-level data be submitted using the Hi5DB format as explained below.

In addition, if agencies have GPS coordinates of whitebark pine stands with no other information, polygons enclosing whitebark pine communities, or presence/absence data, all data types should be submitted to us as well.

Note: We recognize that agencies recently sent the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (F&WS) their whitebark pine distribution GIS layers and health data in response to the F&WS data call in connection with their on-going whitebark pine status review.  F&WS will share with us these distributional data, unless an agency placed a restriction on data sharing.  If your agency provided data to F&WS with restrictions, we would be grateful if you would send us these data directly.  We will reach out and contact you if we do not hear from you.

Spatial Data

Please submit data to Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Executive Assistant, Julee Shamhart ([email protected]) as either geotiff or zipped shapefiles. Data can be submitted in the Forest Service T: drive folder (T:\FS\RD\RMRS\Science\FFS\Projects\NWPR\data_depository) or placed in the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation Dropbox. To access the WPEF Dropbox, please send an email to Julee Shamhart requesting a shared Dropbox folder in which to place your data. You will receive a link to a folder shared only with you. Include all available location and health data attributes in the format provided in the attached example (DataSubmissionEx.xls).

Attributes requested include:

  • Date: the date the data were collected
  • Potential: 0 or 1 describing whether there is potential for WBP (if you do not know how to evaluate, please omit)
  • Existing: 0 or 1 describing whether WBP has been observed (even 1 tree)
  • Abundance: We accept two measures of the abundance of whitebark pine – living trees per acre and live basal area (square feet per acre).  Please note that these are for trees that are above 4.5 feet tall– no seedlings
  • Mountain Pine Beetle: We accept two measures of the impact of mountain pine beetles on whitebark pine – the percent of living whitebark pine trees (>4.5 ft tall) that have evidence of mountain pine beetle occurrence and the percent of the trees (>4.5 ft tall) that were killed by mountain pine beetle.
  • White pine blister rust: We accept two measures of the impact of blister rust on whitebark pine – the percent of living whitebark pine trees (>4.5 ft tall) that have evidence of blister rust occurrence and the percent of the trees (>4.5 ft tall) that were killed by blister rust.

*Whenever possible, please submit data in the requested format; however, data existing in other formats will also be accepted. We do not currently have the funding or resources to extensively reformat or digitize data, but we will attempt to standardize unformatted data if the resources become available. Maps can be scanned and submitted for potential digitizing if that is the only data you have available.

Plot Data

Efforts by the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) are currently underway to collect all data on whitebark pine in the U.S. to augment an existing database.  This includes data on distribution, health condition, regeneration, wildlife, or any other aspect that includes whitebark pine information. Any data that describe whitebark pine are being requested. Examples include stand inventories, research plots, or other field studies. The RMRS has assumed oversight for the Hi5DB database (formally WLIS).  We are using this modified database to collect and serve the data to those who need it to prioritize core areas.  In addition, we will make use of distributional and health data in the course of developing the National Whitebark Pine Restoration Plan and to improve existing spatial data layers.

Overview of the Hi5DB Plot Database

The High-elevation five-needle white pine database (Hi5DB) is a specialized repository for georeferenced plot data that describe the presence and abundance of high-elevation five-needle white pines, and the associated infection and mortality incidence of mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust.  The data are contributed by managers, researchers, and other volunteers who collect field measurements on the status and health of the six high elevation five-needle white pines that comprise the database: whitebark, limber, southwestern white, Great Basin bristlecone, Rocky Mountain bristlecone, and foxtail pine. The Hi5DB was developed from the Whitebark-Limber Pine Information System (WLIS), which was originally introduced in 2005 by the USFS, Forest Health Protection, as a repository for plot-level summary data from surveys of whitebark and limber pine.

The Hi5DB expands on WLIS to archive plot records and map the health status of the six Hi5 pines across their ranges for various land management applications. Currently, the Hi5DB includes FIA plots and survey plots that were identified from the literature or submitted by agencies or investigators.  Although records are entered as plot-level data summaries, more detailed information beyond what is provided in the spreadsheet can be obtained from the original author/provider/source.

The database is currently in a static format on an Excel spreadsheet and will be housed at the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station Data Archive site for general usage.

Instructions for Entering Data & Submitting Spreadsheets

We are soliciting any georeferenced plot data that describes whitebark pine abundance, status, and health.  If you have data, please enter your information into the Hi5DB_Template.xlxs spreadsheet. The Rocky Mountain Research Station has created the Hi5DB_Template.xlxs Excel spreadsheet to specify the kinds, types, and formats of the data acceptable to include in the Hi5DB, and as a template for you, the user, to reformat your data into the Hi5DB format.  If you open the template you will see four separate worksheets. The first worksheet (Hi5DB_Overview) is background information on the Hi5DB data format. The Hi5DB_MasterData worksheet displays all fields included in the Hi5DB and shows all the various types of data that can be entered into the database including real data examples.  However, there are many fields that have complicated definitions, so the Hi5DB_Reduced worksheet shows a minimum number of fields may be added to the Hi5DB.  The last worksheet is the Hi5DB_Fields and it contains all the metadata for each field in the Hi5DB_MasterData and Hi5DB_Reduced worksheets. The metadata include detailed definitions of fields and codes used for each column in the data worksheets.

Please send your Hi5DB_Template.xlxs spreadsheets to Chris Stalling (406-829-7386, [email protected]) or to Dr. Robert Keane at RMRS (406- 329-4846, [email protected]).

Note: If you do not have the time to reformat, please send your original data file and its corresponding metadata to us and we will format your data for you.  And also note that you need NOT have values for all fields in the Hi5DB; we will take data for any of the fields as long as the plots are georeferenced locations (long/lat, UTMs).

A separate but comparable campaign for data collection is also underway for the other high elevation five needle pines in the U.S. (foxtail, Great Basin bristlecone, limber, Rocky Mountain bristlecone, southwestern white). This effort is designed to develop a single database on these species, which are declining from infection by white pine blister rust and other destructive agents.  Variables for the other pines are the same as those assigned to whitebark pine to ensure database compatibility.  If you have any data on these other Hi5 species that you can contribute, please reformat if possible and then send to Chris Stalling (406-829-7386, [email protected]). Original data sets with metadata are also acceptable. There isn’t a deadline on receipt of these other Hi5 data, but if you can provide data during 2018, it would be extremely useful.