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Bark beetles and fire: two forces of nature transforming western forests

Author(s): Gail Wells
Year Published: 2012

Bark beetles are chewing a wide swath through forests across North America. Over the past few years, infestations have become epidemic in lodgepole and spruce-fir forests of the Intermountain West. The resulting extensive acreages of dead trees are alarming the public and raising concern about risk of severe fire. Researchers supported by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) are examining the complicated relationship between bark beetles and wildfire, the two most influential natural disturbance agents in these forests. Are the beetles setting the stage for larger, more severe wildfires? And are fires bringing on beetle epidemics? Contrary to popular opinion, the answer to both questions seems to be 'no.'

Citation: Wells, Gail. 2012. Bark beetles and fire: two forces of nature transforming western forests. Joint Fire Science Program; Fire Science Digest. February 2012(12): 1-15.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire & Bark Beetles, Fire & Wildlife, Invertebrates, Mountain pine beetles
Ecosystem(s): Alpine forest/krummholz, Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest, Ponderosa pine woodland/savanna
Document Type: Research Brief or Fact Sheet
NRFSN number: 11984
FRAMES RCS number: 14823
Record updated: May 16, 2018