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Douglas-Fir Beetle Response to Artificial Creation of Down Wood in the Oregon Coast Range

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Douglas-fir beetle populations were monitored before and after thinning and felling of trees to create down wood in an 88-year-old Douglas-fir plantation in the Oregon Coast Range. Treatments included an unthinned control, thinning to a target of 75 trees/ha, and thinning to a target of 150 trees/ha. Actual mean tree densities on the plots after thinning were 406, 102, and 154, for the control, 75 trees/ha, and 150 trees/ha treatments, respectively. Fifty trees/ha were felled and left on all thinned plots to create down wood for ecological values. Catches in pheromone-baited traps indicated that the local beetle population increased for 1 year in response to felling and leaving large diameter trees in partial shade. Douglas-fir beetle entrance holes and brood were significantly more abundant on the sides of felled trees and wood borers were significantly more abundant on the upper surface suggesting that treatments that provide maximum exposure of felled trees will create the least favorable habitat for Douglas-fir beetles. However, there were no differences in Douglas-fir beetle entrance holes or brood densities in felled trees between the two thinning intensities. Douglas-fir beetle-caused tree mortality was significantly higher on thinned plots with residual felled trees compared with unthinned controls, although infestation levels were low on all plots (<2 trees/ha). The small increase in beetle-caused tree mortality associated with leaving felled trees would be unlikely to interfere with resource management objectives. These results are applicable to mature, managed forests west of the Cascades with relatively low Douglas-fir beetle populations. In different regions and stand types, or under different environmental conditions, beetle populations could increase to higher densities, remain at high densities longer, and cause higher levels of tree mortality.
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Keywords: Dendroctonus pseudotsugae; down wood; felled trees; population dynamics; retention; thinning

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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