Fire and insects in northern and boreal forest ecosystems of North America

D. G. McCullough
R. A. Werner
D. Neumann


Fire and insects are natural disturbance agents in many forest ecosystems, often interacting to affect succession, nutrient cycling, and forest species composition. We review literature pertaining to effects of fire-insect interactions on ecological succession, use of prescribed fire for insect pest control, and effects of fire on insect diversity from northern and boreal forests in North America. Fire suppression policies implemented in the early 1900s have resulted in profound changes in forest species composition and structure. Associated with these changes was an increased vulnerability of forest stands to damage during outbreaks of defoliating insects. Information about the roles that both fire and insects play in many northern forests is needed to increase our understanding of the ecology of these systems and to develop sound management policies.