The bark beetle, Dendroctonus rhizophagus Thomas & Bright, is endemic to the Sierra Madre Occidental (SMOC) in México. This bark beetle is a major pest of the seedlings and young saplings of several pine species that are of prime importance to the nation's forest industry. Despite the significance of this bark beetle as a pest, its biology, ecology, and distribution are poorly known. Three predictive modeling approaches were used as a first approximation to identify bioclimatic variables related to the presence of D. rhizophagus in the SMOC and to obtain maps of its potential distribution within the SMOC, which is a morphotectonic province. Our results suggest that the bark beetle could have an almost continuous distribution throughout the major mountain ranges of the SMOC. This beetle has a relatively narrow ecological niche with respect to some temperature and precipitation variables and inhabits areas with climatic conditions that are unique from those usually prevalent in the SMOC. However, the bark beetle has a broad ecological niche with respect to the number of hosts that it attacks. At the macro-scale level, the D. rhizophagus distribution occurs within the wider distribution of its main hosts. The limit of the geographical distribution of this bark beetle coincides with the maximum temperature isotherms. Our results imply a preference for temperate habitats, which leads to the hypothesis that even minor changes in climate may have significant effects on its distribution and abundance.
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