Announcing The NSERC TRIA Network: Turning Risk Into Action for the Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic

The NSERC TRIA Network (TRIA-Net) is a recently funded initiative under the Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Strategic Network Grants program which will work to protect Canadian forests through science-based strategies to control spread of the mountain pine beetle in Canada.

Directed by Dr. Janice Cooke (University of Alberta), co-directed Dr. Joerg Bohlmann (University of British Columbia), and managed by Dr. Sebastian Lackey (University of Alberta), this highly collaborative research initiative will leverage the interdisciplinary strengths of 18 contributing scientists, in addition to government, not-for-profit, and industry organizations which have been integrated into the Network structure.

Over the five year Network timeframe, TRIA-Net will build on the ground-breaking research from the Tria Project that originally began in 2007. Working closely with its Partner Organizations, TRIA-Net research will provide knowledge and tools in real time to decision makers, helping them combat the continued spread of this devastating forest insect.

Additional information on this newly funded initiative is provided in the description of Network activity below (also available on the NSERC website). Please feel free to contact us with any questions .

Media articles:


The NSERC TRIA Network: Turning Risk Into Action for the Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic


The mountain pine beetle epidemic that has occurred in western Canada has affected more than 19 million hectares of forest land in British Columbia and Alberta, resulting in mortality of over 1 billion cubic metres of mature pine trees and affecting the ecological integrity of western Canadian pine forest. In addition to affecting timber volumes, mountain pine beetle infestations impact the availability of plant and wildlife habitats, limit recreational opportunities, alter hydrological cycles and a limit the range of ecosystem services on the landscape.

The mountain pine beetle is poised to continue its northward and eastward range expansion, including spread into the jack pine forests that extend across Canada, and that are an important component of the boreal forest. Understanding the factors that influence mountain pine beetle dynamics is vital to designing effective spread control programmes, particularly in the novel habitats to which the outbreak has spread in recent years, where conditions may be quite different than those in the beetle’s historic range. Understanding these factors is also critical for assessing risk to regions not yet impacted by the mountain pine beetle.

The NSERC Turning Risk Into Action for the Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic Network (TRIA-Net) is poised to provide knowledge and tools to help decision makers combat mountain pine beetle outbreaks and its northern and eastern spread.


Network Structure

Cross-scale ecosystem challenges require cross-scale research teams. TRIA-Net brings together a diverse and well-rounded team of 18 co-investigators and collaborators to address this challenge from a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary and coherent perspective.

  • University of Alberta
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver and Okanagan campuses
  • Université Laval
  • Université de Montreal
  • University of Northern British Columbia
  • Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service
  • Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, and
  • University of Minnesota


The research team has partnered with a number of government, industry, and not-for-profit organizations, to ensure that outcomes from this research can inform decision-making in real time.

  • Alberta Agriculture and Forestry,
  • Foothills Research Institute,
  • Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship,
  • Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service,
  • Northwest Territories Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry,
  • Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment,
  • West Fraser
  • Weyerhaeuser


Research Objectives

(1) fill key gaps in our knowledge of the MPB-fungal associate-pine host system that limit our ability to monitor, assess, and predict MPB risk to Canada’s forests; using molecular, population genomics analyses, ecological and socioeconomic analyses

(2) use this knowledge to inform development of stand susceptibility indices, MBP spread risk models and socioeconomic impact models;

(3) provide outcomes in real-time to decision-makers within partner organizations to guide management decisions.

TRIA-Net researchers are using genomics, molecular analyses, population genetics, systematics, ecology, population dynamics, and modeling to improve our understanding of how mountain pine beetles interact with their pine hosts and the fungal symbionts that the beetles carry, how environmental conditions affect these interactions, and how the genetics of these organisms may influence mountain pine beetle spread. These insights will inform the development of new tools and improvement of existing tools, such as models that assess and forecast the risk of mountain pine beetle spread. Researchers will use these forecasts, together with models of the cumulative effects of mountain pine beetle infestations on multiple ecosystem services, to identify regions that may be more vulnerable to mountain pine beetle outbreaks.


This integrative and multidisciplinary approach taken by the TRIA-Net research team and partner organizations aims to yield fundamentally new insights and management tools for practitioners to monitor, assess and predict risk and vulnerability of forest ecosystems to mountain pine beetle, enabling knowledge-based policy development and management decisions.


Dr. Sebastian Lackey, Network Manager
University of Alberta
780 492 1990

Dr. Janice Cooke, Network Director
University of Alberta
780 492 0412

Dr. Joerg Bohlmann, Network Co-Director
University of British Columbia
604 822 0282


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