Fuel and Vegetation Succession in Response to Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemics in Northwestern Montana - a Thesis

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University of Idaho, M.S. Thesis, Moscow, ID

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Results from an investigation of fuel succession in lodgepole pine forests subject to mountain pine beetle epidemics in or near Glacier National Park are presented. The objective of the study was to develop predictive equations for fuel loading in relation to the number of years following mountain pine beetle epidemics in the Douglas-fir/pinegrass and spruce/queencup beadlily habitat types. The number of years following a mountain pine beetle epidemic was used to predict fuel loading. Two trends were identified. In the Douglas-fir/pinegrasss habitat type, fuel loading increased rapidly, then gradually decreased. In the spruce/queencup beadlily habitat type, fuel loading rapidly increased, then leveled off. The coefficient of determination for the Douglas-fir pinegrass habitat type was .81, and the sum of squares due to regression explained 93% of the variation in the spruce/queencup beadlily habitat type. The typically large variation in fuel loading has been the primary limitation for modeling fuel succession. Evidence presented in this paper demonstrates that fuel load variation can be reduced by segregating plots by habitat type and stand history.