Wood‐boring insect abundance in fire‐injured ponderosa pine

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Wood‐boring larvae in the families Cerambycidae and Buprestidae are often found in high densities in burned trees after wildland fires. They play an important role in tree decomposition, often reducing the value of salvageable timber, and represent an important avian food source.

Three forest areas that experienced wildfires 1–3 years previously were surveyed during the summer of 2004. Ponderosa pine trees with green, scorched and consumed needles were examined for wood borer occurrence. Within each of the three needle damage categories, the mean wood borer incidence was similar between different age fires. Trees with scorched or consumed needles had significantly more wood borers than trees with green needles.

Larvae collected from under tree bark were identified to family; when possible, cerambycids were identified further to Acanthocinus spp., Monochamus sp., Rhagium inquisitor (L.) and Stictoleptura canadensis (LeConte), and buprestids were identified to Chalcophora spp. and Chrysobothris sp.

Classification tree models showed that the estimated probability of tree infestation by wood borers varied among needle damage categories. For trees with green needles, tree injury variables of high bole char height and phloem discolouration were important predictive variables. In trees where needles were consumed, tree size variables of diameter at breast height and tree height were important predictive variables.

More than half the dead trees examined were infested with wood borers, indicating that infestation of fire‐killed ponderosa pine may represent an important food source for species such as woodpeckers and a potential problem for the utilization of infested trees.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-9563.2011.00531.x

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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