Mountain Pine Beetles and Ecological Imaginaries: The Social Construction of Forest Insect Disturbance

  • Elizabeth W. Prentice
  • Hua Qin
  • Courtney G. Flint


Mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreaks bear attributions at multiple scales, from the practices of local extractive industries to state and federal forest management to global climate change. Since 1996, an outbreak of MPB has swept across nearly 3.4 million acres in northcentral Colorado. The area affected is constituted by a heterogeneous group of communities and provides an opportunity to examine how institutional forces pattern experiences of the natural world and emergent environmental narratives. This work examines the narratives of local community and regional organizations, along with interviews and household survey data to consider culturally situated experiences and framings of the outbreak. Tracing environmental narratives is part of understanding different environmental vulnerabilities, which is essential to developing management regimes that are inclusive and ultimately sustainable.



This research was supported by the Decision, Risk and Management Sciences Program of the National Science Foundation (Award #1733990). The analysis drew partially on data from a previous research project funded by the Pacific Northwest Research Station and Region 2, US Forest Service. Helpful comments on an earlier draft from Dr. James Sanford (Sandy) Rikoon are also sincerely appreciated.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth W. Prentice
    • 1
  • Hua Qin
    • 1
  • Courtney G. Flint
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Applied Social SciencesUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology, Social Work & AnthropologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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