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Project ID: 06-2-1-20

Year: 2006

Date Started: 08/16/2006

Date Completed: 09/30/2009

Title: Reciprocal Interactions Between Bark Beetles and Wildfire in Subalpine Forests: Landscape Patterns and the Risk of High-Severity Fire

Project Proposal Abstract: Our project addresses Task 1 in AFP 2006-2. Wildfire and bark beetle epidemics are two ecologically important natural disturbances in the Intermountain West, yet we know very little about how these two phenomena interact. It is widely believed that beetle-killed trees increase the risk of severe fires, and that trees that are weakened, but not killed by fire are thought to be more susceptible to beetle invasion. However, few studies have rigorously tested these hypotheses. Our objectives are to combine intensive field studies, broad-scale analyses based on satellite imagery and aerial photography and simulation modeling to describe the spatial patterns of past and current beetle outbreaks in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and portions of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), and quantify the reciprocal interactions of each disturbance on the pattern and severity of the other. We will map the distribution and broad-scale patterns of current and past beetle outbreaks across YNP, and identify the biotic and abiotic factors that influence these patterns, including forest stand characteristics, historic fires, elevation, and geologic substrate. We will then compare the intensity and pattern of the current outbreak with the earlier outbreak described above. In addition, we will investigate how fine-scale variation in stand characteristics such as cone serotiny, occurrence of other pathogens such as white pine blister rust, might influence the susceptibility of trees to beetle infestation. Based on these digital maps of the landscape, we will integrate intensive field studies and remotely sensed data to quantify both live and dead fuel amounts and relate this to time-since-beetle activity, and will identify relationships between previous MPB outbreaks and subsequent fire severity. Finally, we will determine whether fire-damaged trees are, in fact, more susceptible to beetle invasion, and if they may serve as foci for infestation and spread of bark beetles. The GYE is currently experiencing an outbreak of unprecedented intensity and complexity, involving several species of bark beetles, including the mountain pine beetle. The outbreak is affecting multiple species of coniferous trees in and near recently burned areas, providing a timely opportunity to investigate these interactions at multiple scales. We hypothesize that the increased risk of fire following beetle outbreaks is ephemeral, and the longer-term influence of tree mortality is actually a reduction in the likelihood of severe fires. We further hypothesize that fire-damaged trees may not be more susceptible to beetle activity due to competition with other pathogens. This research involves collaboration and cooperation with several federal land management agencies in the GYE and will significantly improve our understanding of the interactions of wildfire and beetle outbreaks and how these interactions influence the structure and function of forested ecosystems in the GYE.

Principal Investigator: Daniel B. Tinker

Agency/Organization: University of Wyoming

Branch or Dept: Department of Botany


Other Project Collaborators

Type

Name

Agency/Organization

Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

William H Romme

Colorado State University

Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship

Co-Principal Investigator

Philip A. Townsend

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology

Co-Principal Investigator

Monica G. Turner

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Department of Zoology

Federal Cooperator

Roy Renkin

NPS-National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park


Project Locations

Consortium

Northern Rockies


There are no project locations identified for this project.

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   58 Ph.D. Dissertation Bark Beetle-Fire-Forest Interactions in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
view or print   1041 Government Publication Annotated Bibliography for Forest Managers on Fire-Bark Beetle Interactions
view or print   2986 Journal Article Forest Ecology and Management
view or print   187 MS Thesis Interactions of White Pine Blister Rust, Host Species, and Mountain Pine Beetle in Whitebark Pine Ecosystems in the Greater Yellowstone (N.K. Bockino)
    4473 Conference/Symposia/Workshop The Interactions of Wildfire and Insect Outbreaks

Supporting Documents

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Brief

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