Tracing temporal changes in the human dimensions of forest insect disturbance on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

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Journal/Book Title

Human Ecology

Publication Date



Springer Verlag





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A rapidly growing literature on the human dimensions of forest disturbance by insects has emerged over the past decade. As a result, the diverse social and economic impacts of forest disturbances and their implications have become increasingly understood. However, little research has assessed the temporal dynamics of community experience, perceptions, and actions related to changing forest landscapes and risks. Using longitudinal survey data from 2004 to 2008, this study examines the changing human dimensions of forest disturbance in the context of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula spruce bark beetle outbreak. Findings suggest ramifications of forest risks related to bark beetles were more complicated than an issue-attention cycle or timeline of beetle activity would predict. Shifts in perceptions of beetle impacts and forest risks, relationships with land managers, and local interaction and activeness of study communities reflected diverse pathways of temporal changes in human dimensions. Ordinary least squares and panel regression models indicated community participation and indirect risk perception (concern about broader threats to community and ecological well-being) had a consistently strong influence on community activeness in response to the beetle outbreak. Community wildfire experience and the perceived intensity of forest disturbance contributed most to risk perceptions. Implications of these results for forest management and future research are advanced.

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