Forest-landscape structure mediates effect of a spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak on subsequent likelihood burning in Alaskan boreal forest


Hansen, W.D., Chapin III, F.S., Naughton, H.T., Rupp, T.S., Verbyla, D.

Publication source: 
Forest Ecology and Management
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In this paper we evaluated the influence of spruce bark beetle outbreak occurrence during the 1990s on subsequent fire probability on the western Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska. We found that the probability of fire occurrence increased when white spruce (the beetle's dominant host tree) was intermixed with flammable black spruce, likely because fine flashy fuel loads increased in beetle killed white spruce stands that once served as fire breaks. However, probability of fire occurrence did not increase in pure stands of beetle-killed white spruce.  Our results may help us anticipate the dynamics and consequences of future boreal bark beetle outbreaks as climate warms at high latitudes. 

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