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Project ID: 09-1-06-3

Year: 2009

Date Started: 07/01/2009

Date Completed: 09/28/2013

Title: Bark Beetles, Fuels and Future Fire Hazard in Contrasting Conifer Forests of Greater Yellowstone

Project Proposal Abstract: Recent increases in insect and fire activity throughout the western US have presented forest managers with formidable challenges. The extent and severity of bark beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) epidemics have reached unprecedented levels, and the number of large, severe fires continues to increase. These trends are expected to continue because climate change is implicated for both disturbances. Insects and fire have tremendous ecological and economic effects in western forests, yet surprisingly little is known about how fire hazard may change following bark beetle epidemics, and the efficacy of alternative forest management practices (e.g., removal of beetle-killed trees or remaining small trees) designed to reduce future fire hazard is largely unknown. We propose to employ a powerful combination of field studies, remote sensing and simulation modeling to understand how bark beetle infestation affects fire hazard in two widespread but contrasting forest types, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). Lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir forests are key components of Rocky Mountain landscapes, and both are experiencing extensive and severe bark beetle outbreaks. Published research on beetle effects on fire in lodgepole pine forests is inconclusive, and almost no studies have examined Douglas-fir. We hypothesize that differences in fire regime, stand structure, regeneration potential and decomposition of woody fuels lead to important differences in fuel profiles, fire hazard and, in turn, the effectiveness of alternative mitigation strategies in lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir. Our studies will be conducted in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), where we build on > 20 yrs of research and our recently initiated studies of bark beetles and fire in lodgepole pine forests. We will test specific hypotheses as part of addressing three major research questions. (1) How do effects of bark beetle outbreaks on fuel profiles and subsequent fire hazard differ between lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir forests? We will test hypotheses about how post-beetle fuel profiles and future fire hazard differ between these two widespread forest types. A time-since-beetle chronosequence will be sampled in Douglas-fir forests of Greater Yellowstone to quantify fuel profiles from 0 to 20 yrs since the epidemic. Results will be compared to our current data for lodgepole pine (2006 Joint Fire Science Program award). Remote sensing products will be developed to map canopy, herbaceous and woody fuels in post-beetle stands across the GYE. (2) How was the severity of recent fire in lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir forests affected by prior bark beetle infestation, and does the combination of beetle infestation and fire compromise forest recovery? In recent fires (2006-2008) in the GYE, field studies and remote sensing will be used to determine how actual spatial variation of fire severity across the landscape was related to pre-fire beetle infestation. We will measure fire severity in the Gunbarrel Fire that burned in beetle-killed Douglas-fir on the Shoshone National Forest, and the New Fork Lakes Fire that burned in beetle-killed lodgepole pine on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. We will also compare forest regeneration in areas affected by fire only, beetles only and both beetles and fire. (3) What post-beetle fuel treatments are likely to change the hazard of subsequent severe fire in lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir forests? We will parameterize the FIRE AND FUELS EXTENSION TO THE FOREST VEGETATION SIMULATOR model (Reinhardt and Crookston 2003) for lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir with our field data. Simulations will explore the effects of a wide range of common forest management practices (e.g., thinning, removal of beetle killed trees or remaining small trees, slash management, etc.) on future fire hazard.

Principal Investigator: Monica G. Turner

Agency/Organization: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Branch or Dept: Department of Zoology


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

Federal Cooperator

Roy Renkin

NPS-National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park

Federal Fiscal Representative

Lindsay C. Robb

NPS-National Park Service

Yellowstone National Park


Project Locations

Consortium

Northern Rockies


Level

State

Agency

Unit

STATE

WY

NPS

Yellowstone National Park

STATE

WY

NPS

Grand Teton National Park

STATE

WY

FS

Bridger-Teton National Forest

STATE

WY

FS

Shoshone National Forest


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   78 Ph.D. Dissertation Bark Beetle Disturbance and Nitrogen Cycling in Conifer Forests of Greater Yellowstone
view or print   2993 Journal Article Landscape Ecology
view or print   5320 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Bark Beetle Effects on Fuel Profiles and Wildfire Severity in Douglas-Fir Forests of Greater Yellowstone
view or print   4329 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Douglas-Fir Beetle Impacts on Fire Severity and Postfire Tree Regeneration in Lower Montane Forests of Greater Yellowstone
view or print   4281 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Effects of Recent Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation on Fire Severity and Post-Fire Regeneration in a Lodgepole Pine Forest of Greater Yellowstone
view or print   4282 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Interactions Between Bark Beetle Outbreaks and Wildfire Potential in Douglas-Fir Forests of Greater Yellowstone
view or print   4284 Conference/Symposia/Workshop Disturbance at the Edge: Douglas-Fir Beetle Outbreaks and Potential Forest-Grassland Shifts Near the Lower Treeline of Greater Yellowstone

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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