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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 21(3)

Fuel loadings 5 years after a bark beetle outbreak in south-western USA ponderosa pine forests

Chad M. Hoffman A E, Carolyn Hull Sieg B, Joel D. McMillin C and Peter Z. Fulé D

A Wildland Fire Program, College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA.
B USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 2500 Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA. Email: csieg@fs.fed.us
C USDA Forest Service, Region 3 Forest Health Protection, 2500 Pine Knoll Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA. Email: jmcmillin@fs.fed.us
D School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA. Email: pete.fule@nau.edu
E Corresponding author. Present address: Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA. Email: c.hoffman@colostate.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 21(3) 306-312 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF11019
Submitted: 2 February 2011  Accepted: 20 June 2011   Published: 20 December 2011


 
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Abstract

Landscape-level bark beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) outbreaks occurred in Arizona ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex Law.) forests from 2001 to 2003 in response to severe drought and suitable forest conditions. We quantified surface fuel loadings and depths, and calculated canopy fuels based on forest structure attributes in 60 plots established 5 years previously on five national forests. Half of the plots we sampled in 2007 had bark beetle-caused pine mortality and half did not have mortality. Adjusting for differences in pre-outbreak stand density, plots with mortality had higher surface fuel and lower canopy fuel loadings 5 years after the outbreak compared with plots without mortality. Total surface fuels averaged 2.5 times higher and calculated canopy fuels 2 times lower in plots with mortality. Nearly half of the trees killed in the bark beetle outbreak had fallen within 5 years, resulting in loadings of 1000-h woody fuels above recommended ranges for dry coniferous forests in 20% of the mortality plots. We expect 1000-h fuel loadings in other mortality plots to exceed recommended ranges as remaining snags fall to the ground. This study adds to previous work that documents the highly variable and complex effects of bark beetle outbreaks on fuel complexes.

Additional keywords: Dendroctonus, forest fuels, Ips, Pinus ponderosa, resistance to fire control.


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