Influence of Fire and Mountain Pine Beetle on the Dynamics of Lodgepole Pine Stands in British Columbia, Canada

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Forest Ecology and Management

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An outbreak of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins; MPB), currently affecting over 10.1 million hectares of lodgepole pine forests (Pinus contorta Dougl.) in British Columbia, Canada, is the largest in recorded history. We examined the dynamics of even-aged lodgepole pine forests in southern British Columbia, which were undergoing this MPB outbreak. Using dendroecology and forest measurements we reconstructed the stand processes of stand initiation, stand disturbances, tree mortality, and regeneration, and explained the current stand structure and the potential MPB impacts in selected stands. Our results indicate that stand-replacing fires initiated even-aged seral lodgepole pine stands in this region. In the absence of fire in the 20th century, multiple MPB disturbances, which each resulted in partial canopy removal, modified the simple one-layer structure of the fire-origin stands by the initiation of post-MPB disturbance regeneration layers, transforming the stands into complex, multi- aged stands. Despite high overstory mortality due to the current MPB outbreak, regeneration layers, which are likely to survive the current outbreak, will provide important ecological legacies and will contribute to mid-term timber supply.


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