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A Tree-Ring Reconstruction of Western Spruce Budworm History in the Southern Rocky Mountains

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Tree-ring width chronologies from ten mixed-conifer stands in the Colorado Front Range and New Mexico Sangre de Cristo Mountains were used to reconstruct the timing, duration, and radial growth impacts of past outbreaks of western spruce budworm (Choristoneura occidentalis Freeman). At least nine outbreaks were identified in the stands from 1700 to 1983. Severity and timing of outbreaks was highly variable. The average duration of reduced growth periods caused by budworms was 12.9 years and ranged from 5 to 26 years. The average interval between initial years of successive outbreaks was 34.9 years and ranged from 14 to 58 years. The average maximum and periodic radial growth reductions were 50% and 21.7%, respectively. There was a relatively long period of reduced budworm activity in the first few decades of the twentieth century, and since that time outbreaks have been markedly more synchronous among the sampled stands. It is hypothesized that the increased synchroneity of outbreaks in the latter half of the twentieth century is due to changes in age structure and species composition following harvesting and fire suppression in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For. Sci. 35(4):962-986.

Keywords: Dendrochronology; Pseudotsuga menziesii; disturbance ecology; insect outbreaks

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Entomologist, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, 240 West Prospect, Fort Collins, CO 80526-2098

Publication date: 1989-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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