Long-term Impacts of Stand Management on Ponderosa Pine Physiology and Bark Beetle Abundance in Northern Arizona: A Replicated Landscape Study
Forest Ecology and Management
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Laws.) forests in northern Arizona have degraded due to overgrazing, logging, and fire suppression that accompanied Euro-American settlement in the late 1800s. Overstocked stands of suppressed trees with low structural diversity dominate the landscape. These conditions create high risk of catastrophic fires and insect outbreaks. We investigated long-term effects (8–16 years post-treatment) of thinning and thinning + prescribed burning on ponderosa pine water stress, leaf carbon isotope discrimination and nitrogen concentration, oleoresin exudation flow, phloem thickness, radial growth, and bark beetle abundance relative to unmanaged control stands over 2 years of measurement in 12 stands replicated across the landscape. Predawn water potential in late June, phloem thickness, and basal area increment were lower in unmanaged than managed stands. Oleoresin exudation flow in July was greater in unmanaged and thinned + burned stands than thinned stands, and greater in a warm year than a cooler year. Leaf nitrogen concentration differed between years, but not among treatments. Tree competition and water stress were positively correlated, and tree competition was negatively correlated with radial growth and phloem thickness. Pheromone-baited trap catches of Dendroctonus spp. (D. brevicomis Leconte pooled with D. frontalis Zimmerman) were higher in unmanaged than managed stands, whereas catches of Ips spp. did not differ among treatments. We conclude that thinning with and without prescribed burning can have long-term effects on ponderosa pine water stress, growth, phloem thickness, resin flow, and bark beetle abundance. Low levels of tree mortality from bark beetles at our study sites suggest remarkable resistance of ponderosa pine in mid-elevation forests in northern Arizona, even at high tree densities.
Zausen, G. L. et al. 2005. Long-term Impacts of Stand Management on Ponderosa Pine Physiology and Bark Beetle Abundance in Northern Arizona: A Replicated Landscape Study. Forest Ecology and Management 218: 291-305.