Characterizing Forest Biomass and the Impacts of Bark Beetles and Forest Management in the Southern Rocky Mountains, USA

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2020


Forest carbon sequestration is key in mitigating rising atmospheric carbon concentrations. Recent bark beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) outbreaks have decreased forest carbon stocks across millions of hectares of the western United States (U.S.) since the mid1990s. Bark beetle outbreaks cause forests to temporarily act as a carbon source and also alter resistance to future disturbances by impacting species composition and forest structure. This dissertation first assesses the quantity and distribution of forest biomass in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming from the tree to landscape scale. In my first chapter, I compare variability and uncertainty in biomass estimates using different allometric biomass equations. In the next chapter, I map tree mortality in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm. ex Wats.) forests of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho to quantify bark beetle impacts and infer bark beetle population dynamics. In the third chapter, I present a new approach for mapping standing dead biomass, summarizes standing aboveground biomass pools by species and forest type, and provides an assessment of potentially accessible biomass for bioenergy scenarios. Lastly, I simulate the impacts of salvage logging beetle killed stands on aboveground biomass and susceptibility to future mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreaks and fire