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Forest structure altered by mountain pine beetle outbreaks affects subsequent attack in a Wyoming lodgepole pine forest, USA

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Extensive outbreaks of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) will alter the structure of many stands that will likely be attacked again before experiencing a stand-replacing fire. We examined a stand of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm. ex S. Watson) in Grand Teton National Park currently experiencing a moderate-level outbreak and previously attacked by mountain pine beetle in the 1960s. Consistent with published studies, tree diameter was the main predictor of beetle attack on a given tree, large trees were preferentially attacked, and tree vigor, age, and cone production were unimportant variables for beetle attack at epidemic levels. Small trees killed in the stand were killed based mainly on their proximity to large trees and were likely spatially aggregated with large trees as a result of the previous outbreak. We concluded that the driving factors of beetle attack and their spatial patterns are consistent across outbreak severities but that stand structure altered by the previous outbreak had implications for the current outbreaks in the same location. This study should catalyze additional research that examines how beetle-altered stand structure affects future outbreaksĀ — an important priority for predicting their impacts under climate change scenarios that project increases in outbreak frequency and extent.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Biological Sciences Building, 5047 Gullen Mall, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA. 2: 2950 Santa Ana Drive, Reno, NV 89502, USA.

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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