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A Mechanistic Computer Model of Mountain Pine Beetle Populations Interacting with Lodgepole Pine Stands and Its Implications for Forest Managers

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A computer simulation model based on laboratory and field studies of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) interactions with lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) is presented. The experimental results provide the basis for the underlying assumptions and equations concerning host resistance, beetle numbers, and nutrient availability. This simulation is not intended to predict numerical levels in any particular region, but instead provides a basis for considering how host and beetle factors can interact to affect population behavior. The model generates patterns of population behavior characteristic of D. ponderosae and other primary bark beetle species, and shows a variable relationship of population density with population growth. The system has two equilibrium points, one of which is stable, and the other is unstable. The unstable equilibrium represents a threshold that separates regions of qualitatively different population behavior (endemic from epidemic). Each stand is characterized by a unique population outbreak threshold, and this value is strongly affected by age class. The simulation model was used to evaluate management practices for controlling D. ponderosae outbreaks. The most important factors were found to be those that directly affect host vigor. Stand thinning seems to provide the most effective long-term protection from beetle outbreaks. Forest Sci. 32:789-805.

Keywords: Dendroctonus ponderosae; Pinus contorta; bark beetles; computer simulation; host resistance; insect epidemiology; multiple equilibria; plant-insect interactions; population dynamics

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Professor, Department of Entomology and Forestry and Range Management, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6432

Publication date: September 1, 1986

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