If Long-Term Resistance to a Spruce Beetle Epidemic is Futile, Can Silvicultural Treatments Increase Resilience in Spruce-Fir Forests in the Central Rocky Mountains?
Within the Central Rocky Mountains, spruce beetle populations have the potential to rapidly transition from endemic to epidemic levels in the spruce-fir (Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir) forest type. Conventional management has focused on creating resistance to spruce beetle outbreaks by manipulating the overstory density and composition. Three silvicultural treatments, single tree selection, group selection, and shelterwood with reserves, were established in a spruce-fir forest in northern Utah with the goals of increasing both resistance and resilience to outbreaks. Resistance and resilience metrics were explicitly defined. Pre-harvest and two post-harvest measurements were used to assess how the different silvicultural treatments influenced the metrics. The shelterwood with reserves was the only treatment to meet both the resistance and resilience criteria. This treatment, while not traditionally used, created a stand structure and composition that will be most resilient to climate induced increases in spruce beetle caused tree mortality. However, there will be a trade-off in composition and structure, especially Engelmann spruce, after a spruce beetle epidemic because the created structure is more uniform with fewer groups and gaps than commonly observed in spruce-fir forests. With changing climatic conditions, proactive forest management, such as the shelterwood with reserves in the spruce-fir forest type, is the best method for increasing short-term resistance and long-term resilience to spruce beetle outbreaks.
Windmuller-Campione, MA and Long, JN. 2015.If Long-Term Resistance to a Spruce Beetle Epidemic is Futile, Can Silvicultural Treatments Increase Resilience in Spruce-Fir Forests in the Central Rocky Mountains? Forests 2015, 6(4), 1157-1178; doi:10.3390/f6041157