Predictors of bark beetle activity and scale-dependent spatial heterogeneity change during the course of an outbreak in a subalpine forest

Abstract

Climate conditions and forest structure interact to determine the extent and severity of bark beetle outbreaks, yet the relative importance of each may vary though the course of an outbreak. In 2008, we conducted field surveys and reconstructed forest conditions at multiple stages within a recent mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. At each stage in the outbreak, we examined changes in (1) lodgepole pine mortality and surviving stand structure, (2) the influence of topographic versus stand structure variables on mortality rates, and (3) stand complexity and landscape heterogeneity. Lodgepole pine mortality reduced basal area by 71 %, but only 47 % of stems were killed. Relative to pre-outbreak stands, surviving stands had lower mean dbh (11.0 vs. 17.4 cm), lower basal area (8.5 vs. 29.3 m2 ha−1), lower density (915 vs. 1,393 stems ha−1), and higher proportions of non-host species (23.1 vs. 10.6 % m2 ha−1). Factors predicting mortality rates changed through the course of the outbreak. Tree mortality during the early stage of the outbreak was associated with warm, dry sites and abundant large trees. During the middle and late stages, mortality was associated with stand structure alone. Stand complexity increased, as defined by stand-scale variability in density, basal area, and the proportion of susceptible trees. Landscape heterogeneity decreased according to semi-variograms of tree diameter and basal area. Increased stand complexity may inhibit future MPB population development, but decreased landscape heterogeneity may facilitate outbreak spread across the landscape if a future outbreak were to irrupt.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Adams HD, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Barron-Gafford GA, Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zoug CB, Troch PA, Huxman TE (2009) Temperature sensitivity of drought-induced tree mortality portends increased regional die-off under global-change-type drought. P Natl Acad Sci USA 106(17):7063–7066

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ager AA, McMahan A, Hayes JL, Smith EL (2007) Modeling the effects of thinning on bark beetle impacts and wildfire potential in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon. Landscape Urban Plan 80(3):301–311

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Amman GD, Cole WE (1983) Population dynamics. In: Mountain pine beetle dynamics in lodgepole pine forests Part 2. USDA Forest Service GTR INT-145, pp 1–59

  4. Aoki CF (2010) Fire history and serotiny in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Thesis, Colorado State University

  5. Aukema BH, Carroll AL, Zhu J, Raffa KF, Sickley TA, Taylor SW (2006) Landscape level analysis of mountain pine beetle in British Columbia, Canada: spatiotemporal development and spatial synchrony within the present outbreak. Ecography 29(3):427–441

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Aukema BH, Carroll AL, Zheng Y, Zhu J, Raffa KF, Moore RD, Stahl K, Taylor SW (2008) Movement of outbreak populations of mountain pine beetle: influences of spatiotemporal patterns and climate. Ecography 31(3):348–358

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Beers TW, Dress PE, Wensel LC (1966) Aspect transformation in site productivity research. J Forest 64(10):691–692

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bentz B (ed) (2005) Bark beetle outbreaks in western North America: causes and consequences. University of Utah Press, Snowbird, p 42

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bentz BJ, Regniere J, Fettig CJ, Hansen EM, Hayes JL, Hicke JA, Kelsey RG, Negrón JF, Seybold SJ (2010) Climate change and bark beetles of the western United States and Canada: direct and indirect effects. Bioscience 60(8):602–613

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Beven KJ, Kirkby MJ (1979) A physically based, variable contributing area model of basin hydrology. Hydrol Sci Bull 24(1):43–69

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bigler C, Gavin DG, Gunning C, Veblen TT (2007) Drought induces lagged tree mortality in a subalpine forest in the Rocky Mountains. Oikos 116(12):1983–1994

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Blate GM, Joyce LA, Littell JS, McNulty SG, Millar CI, Moser SC, Neilson RP, O’Halloran K, Peterson DL (2009) Adapting to climate change in United States national forests. Unasylva 60:57–62

    Google Scholar 

  13. Breshears DD, Cobb NS, Rich PM, Price KP, Allen CD, Balice RG, Romme WH, Kastens JH, Floyd ML, Belnap J, Anderson JJ, Myers OB, Meyer CW (2005) Regional vegetation die-off in response to global-change-type drought. P Natl Acad Sci USA 102(42):15144–15148

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chapman TB, Veblen TT, Schoennagel T (2012) Spaciotemporal patterns of mountain pine beetle activity in the southern Rocky Mountains. Ecology 93(10):2175–2185

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Cole WE, Amman GD (1980) Course of an infestation. In: Mountain pine beetle dynamics in lodgepole pine forests, Part 1. USDA Forest Service GTR INT-89:1–56

  16. Collins BJ, Rhoades CC, Underhill J, Hubbard RM (2010) Post-harvest seedling recruitment following mountain pine beetle infestation of Colorado lodgepole pine stands: a comparison using historic survey records. Can J Forest Res 40(12):2452–2456

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Collins BJ, Rhoades CC, Hubbard RM, Battaglia MA (2011) Tree regeneration and future stand development after bark beetle infestation and harvesting in Colorado lodgepole pine stands. Forest Ecol Manag 261(11):2168–2175

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Craig RK (2010) ‘Stationarity is dead’ - long live transformation: five principles for climate change adaptation law. Harvard Environ Law Rev 34(1):9–75

    Google Scholar 

  19. Dale VH, Joyce LA, McNulty S, Neilson RP, Ayers MP, Flannigan MD, Hanson PJ, Irland LC, Lugo AE, Peterson CJ, Simberloff D, Swanson FJ, Stocks BJ, Wotton BM (2001) Climate change and forest disturbances. Bioscience 51(9):723–734

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. de la Giroday HMC, Carroll AL, Lingren BS, Aukema BH (2011) Incoming! Association of landscape features with dispersing mountain pine beetle populations during a range expansion event in western Canada. Landscape Ecol 26:1097–1110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Diskin M, Rocca ME, Nelson KN, Aoki CF, Romme WH (2011) Forest developmental trajectories in mountain pine beetle disturbed forests of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Can J Forest Res 41:782–792

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. ESRI (2006) ArcGIS Desktop: Release 9.2. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute

  23. Fettig CJ, Klepzig KD, Billings RF, Munson AS, Nebeker TE, Negrón JF, Nowak JT (2007) The effectiveness of vegetation management practices for prevention and control of bark beetle infestations in coniferous forests of the western and southern United States. Forest Ecol Manag 238(1–3):24–53

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kayes LJ, Tinker DB (2012) Forest structure and regeneration following a mountain pine beetle epidemic in southeastern Wyoming. Forest Ecol Manag 263:57–66

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Keen FP (1955) The rate of natural falling of beetle-killed ponderosa pine snags. J Forest 53:720–723

    Google Scholar 

  26. Klutsch JG, Negron JF, Costello SL, Rhoades CC, West DR, Popp J, Caissie R (2009) Stand characteristics and downed woody debris accumulations associated with a mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak in Colorado. Forest Ecol Manag 258(5):641–649

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Kramer M (2005) R2 statistics for mixed models. In: Boyer JE (ed) 17th Annual Kansas State University Conference on Applied Statistics in Agriculture, Manhattan, KS, pp 148–160

  28. Leatherman DA (2008) The health of Colorado’s forests: high elevation forests. Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Colorado State Forest Service, Fort Collins, p 17

    Google Scholar 

  29. Legendre P, Fortin MJ (1989) Spatial pattern and ecological analysis. Vegetatio 80(2):107–138

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Li H, Reynolds JF (1995) On definition and quantification of heterogeneity. Oikos 73(2):280–284

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Liebhold AM, Tobin PC (2008) Population ecology of insect invasions and their management. Annu Rev Entomol 53:387–408

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Logan JA, Regniere J, Powell JA (2003) Assessing the impacts of global warming on forest pest dynamics. Front Ecol Environ 1(3):130–137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Magee L (1990) R2 measures based on wald and likelihood ratio joint significance tests. Am Stat 44(3):250–253

    Google Scholar 

  34. Mitchell RG, Waring RH, Pitman GB (1983) Thinning lodgepole pine increases tree vigor and resistance to mountain pine-beetle. Forest Sci 29(1):204–211

    Google Scholar 

  35. Negron JF, McMillin JD, Anhold JA, Coulson D (2009) Bark beetle-caused mortality in a drought-affected ponderosa pine landscape in Arizona, USA. Forest Ecol Manag 257(4):1353–1362

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Nelson KN (2009) The effect of mountain pine beetle caused mortality on subalpine forest stand and landscape structure in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. Thesis, Colorado State University

  37. Nigh GD, Antos JA, Parish R (2008) Density and distribution of advance regeneration in mountain pine beetle killed lodgepole pine stands of the montane spruce zone of southern British Columbia. Can J Forest Res 38(11):2826–2836

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. NRCS (2007) Soil survey of Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Available from http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app. Accessed August 2009)

  39. Oliver T, Roy DB, Hill JK, Brereton T, Thomas CD (2010) Heterogeneous landscapes promote population stability. Ecol Lett 13(4):473–484

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Peet RK (2000) Forests and meadows of the Rocky Mountains. In: Barbour MG, Billings WD (eds) North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 75–122

    Google Scholar 

  41. Peters DPC, Pielke RA, Bestelmeyer BT, Allen CD, Munson-McGee S, Havstad KM (2004) Cross-scale interactions, nonlinearities, and forecasting catastrophic events. P Natl Acad Sci USA 101(42):15130–15135

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Pielke AE Sr, Doesken N, Bliss O, Green T, Chaffin C, Salas JD, Woodhouse CA, Lukas JJ, Wolter K (2005) Drought in Colorado: an unprecedented drought or a routine drought? Pure Appl Geophys 162:1455–1479

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Pinheiro J, Bates D, DebRoy S, Sarkar D, team tRC (2009) nlme: linear and nonlinear mixed effects models. R package version 3.1-92

  44. R Development Core Team (2009) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. In: R foundation for statistical computing, 2.9.1 edn., Vienna, Austria

  45. Raffa KF, Aukema BH, Bentz BJ, Carroll AL, Hicke JA, Turner MG, Romme WH (2008) Cross-scale drivers of natural disturbances prone to anthropogenic amplification: the dynamics of bark beetle eruptions. Bioscience 58(6):501–517

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Regniere J, Bentz B (2007) Modeling cold tolerance in the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae. J Insect Physiol 53(6):559–572

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Reich R (2008) RSpatial: spatial statistical modelling of ecosytem resources and the environment. Colorado State University, Fort Collins

    Google Scholar 

  48. Rocca ME, Romme WH (2009) Beetle-infested forests are not “destroyed”. Front Ecol Environ 7(2):71–72

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Safranyik L, Carroll AL (2006) The biology and epidemiology of mountain pine beetle in lodgepole pine forests. In: Safranyik L, Wilson B (eds) The mountain pine beetle: a synthesis of its biology, management and impacts on lodgepole pine. Canadian Forest Service: Pacific Forestry Center, Natural Resources Canada, Victoria, pp 3–66

    Google Scholar 

  50. Schowalter TD (2006) Insect ecology: an ecosystem approach. Academic Press, Burlington

    Google Scholar 

  51. Schowalter TD, Turchin P (1993) Southern pine beetle infestation development: interaction betwen pine and hardwood basal areas. Forest Sci 39:201–210

    Google Scholar 

  52. Seastedt TR, Hobbs RJ, Suding KN (2008) Management of novel ecosystems: are novel approaches required? Front Ecol Environ 6(10):547–553

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Shore TL, Safranyik L, Lemieux JP (2000) Susceptibility of lodgepole pine stands to the mountain pine beetle: testing of a rating system. Can J Forest Res 30(1):44–49

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Shore TL, Safranyik L, Hawkes BC, Taylor AH (2007) Effects of the mountain pine beetle on lodgepole pine stand structure and dynamics. In: Safranyik L, Wilson B (eds) The mountain pine beetle: a synthesis of biology, management, and impacts in lodgepole pine. Canadian Forest Service: Pacific Forestry Center, Natural Resources Canada, Victoria, p 299

    Google Scholar 

  55. Sibold JS, Veblen TT, Gonzalez ME (2006) Spatial and temporal variation in historic fire regimes in subalpine forests across the Colorado Front Range in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. USA. J Biogeogr 33(4):631–647

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Sibold JS, Veblen TT, Chipko K, Lawson L, Mathis E, Scott J (2007) Influences of secondary disturbances on lodgepole pine stand development in rocky mountain national park. Ecol Appl 17(6):1638–1655

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Stokes MA, Smiley TL (1968) An introduction to tree-ring dating. University of Chicago Press, Chicago

    Google Scholar 

  58. Teste FP, Lieffers VJ, Landhausser SM (2011) Seed release in serotinous lodgepole pine forests after mountain pine beetle outbreak. Ecol Appl 21(1):150–162

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Theobald DM, Stevens DL, White D, Urquhart NS, Olsen AR, Norman JB (2007) Using GIS to generate spatially balanced random survey designs for natural resource applications. Environ Manag 40(1):134–146

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. US Forest Service (2013) USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region—Aerial Survey Data Download. Available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r2/forest-grasslandhealth/?cid=fsbdev3_041629. Accessed August 2013

  61. van Mantgem PJ, Stephenson NL, Byrne JC, Daniels LD, Franklin JF, Fule PZ, Harmon ME, Larson AJ, Smith JM, Taylor AH, Veblen TT (2009) Widespread increase of tree mortality rates in the western United States. Science 323(5913):521–524

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Vyse A, Ferguson C, Huggard DJ, Roach J, Zimonick B (2009) Regeneration beneath lodgepole pine dominated stands attacked or threatened by the mountain pine beetle in the south central interior, British Columbia. Forest Ecol Manag 258:S36–S43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  63. Westerling AL, Turner MG, Smithwick EAH, Romme WH, Ryan MG (2011) Continued warming could transform Greater Yellowstone fire regimes by mid-21st century. P Natl Acad Sci USA 108(32):13165–13170

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Westerling AL, Hidalgo HG, Cayan DR, Swetnam TW (2006) Warming and earlier spring increase western US forest wildfire activity. Science 313(5789):940–943

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to Dan Binkley, Monique Nelson, and Daniel Tinker for providing invaluable help reviewing this manuscript. Thank you to Brandon Corcoran, Jared Lyons, and Greg Pappas for a flawless summer of fieldwork. We acknowledge Phil Chapman for his advice regarding statistical analyses. We also thank Nathan Williamson, Jeff Connor, and Judy Visty for their knowledge and support at Rocky Mountain National Park. This project was funded by the National Park Service and McIntire-Stennis appropriations to Colorado State University.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kellen N. Nelson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nelson, K.N., Rocca, M.E., Diskin, M. et al. Predictors of bark beetle activity and scale-dependent spatial heterogeneity change during the course of an outbreak in a subalpine forest. Landscape Ecol 29, 97–109 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-013-9954-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mountain pine beetle
  • Lodgepole pine
  • Stand complexity
  • Landscape heterogeneity
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Disturbance