, Volume 9, Issue 8, pp 1318–1327 | Cite as

The Influence of Previous Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) Activity on the 1988 Yellowstone Fires

  • Heather J. LynchEmail author
  • Roy A. Renkin
  • Robert L. Crabtree
  • Paul R. Moorcroft


We examined the historical record of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) activity within Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, for the 25-years period leading up to the 1988 Yellowstone fires (1963–86) to determine how prior beetle activity and the resulting tree mortality affected the spatial pattern of the 1988 Yellowstone fires. To obtain accurate estimates of our model parameters, we used a Markov chain Monte Carlo method to account for the high degree of spatial autocorrelation inherent to forest fires. Our final model included three statistically significant variables: drought, aspect, and sustained mountain pine beetle activity in the period 1972–75. Of the two major mountain pine beetle outbreaks that preceded the 1988 fires, the earlier outbreak (1972–75) was significantly correlated with the burn pattern, whereas the more recent one (1980–83) was not. Although regional drought and high winds were responsible for the large scale of this event, the analysis indicates that mountain pine beetle activity in the mid-1970s increased the odds of burning in 1988 by 11% over unaffected areas. Although relatively small in magnitude, this effect, combined with the effects of aspect and spatial variation in drought, had a dramatic impact on the spatial pattern of burned and unburned areas in 1988.


Yellowstone National Park l988 Yellowstone fires fire ecology mountain pine beetle insect-fire interactions Markov chain Monte Carlo 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather J. Lynch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roy A. Renkin
    • 2
  • Robert L. Crabtree
    • 3
  • Paul R. Moorcroft
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard University Herbaria, Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Yellowstone Center for ResourcesYellowstone National ParkWyomingUSA
  3. 3.Yellowstone Ecological Research CenterBozemanUSA

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