The effect of fires on susceptibility of subalpine forests to a 19th century spruce beetle outbreak in western Colorado
In the subalpine forests of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, research on disturbances that have occurred over the past several decades has shown that prior occurrence of disturbances can alter the extent and severity of subsequent disturbances. In the current study, we consider how fire history affected stand susceptibility to a mid-19th century spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis Kirby 1837) outbreak. Twenty-one sites were randomly located in an Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir (Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm. - Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.) forest across ∼2000 km2 of the Grand Mesa area, Colorado. At each site, dendrochronological methods were used to reconstruct the history of severe fires and beetle outbreak. Stand-origin dates were estimated by collecting increment cores from 20-27 of the largest trees at each sample site. The beetle outbreak was reconstructed based on coincident releases among nonhost trees that survived the outbreak. Forest stands originated following severe fires in ca. 1790, ca. 1740, and ca. 1700. The 1840's outbreak affected 67% of these stands. Stands that initiated following the ca. 1790 fire were less susceptible to the outbreak than older stands. These findings indicate that stand-replacing fires have mitigated susceptibility to outbreaks of spruce beetles not only during recent outbreaks, but also over the past centuries. © 2006 NRC.
Canadian Journal of Forest Research
Kulakowski, Dominik and Veblen, Thomas T., "The effect of fires on susceptibility of subalpine forests to a 19th century spruce beetle outbreak in western Colorado" (2006). Geography. 315.