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Bark beetle-fire associations in the greater Yellowstone area

Author(s): Gene D. Amman
Year Published: 1991

The large forest fires in and around Yellowstone National Park in 1988 bring up many ecological questions, including the role of bark beetles. Bark beetles may contribute to fuel buildup over the years preceding a fire, resulting in stand replacement fires. Fire is important to the survival of seral tree species and bark beetles that reproduce in them. Without fire, seral species are ultimately replaced by climax species. Following fire, bark- and wood-boring beetles respond to fire-injured trees. Because of synchrony of the fires and life cycles of the beetles, beetle infestation in 1988 was not observed in fire-injured trees. However, endemic populations of beetles, upon emergence in 1989, infested large numbers of fire-injured trees. Of the trees examined in each species, 28 to 65 percent were infested by bark beetles: Pinus contorta (28 percent) by Ips pini; Pseudotsuga menziesii (32 percent) by Dendrocronus pseudotsugae; Picee engelmannii (65 percent) by Dendroctonus rufipennis; and Abies lasiocarpa (35 percent) by Buprestidae and Cerambycidae. Most trees infested by hark beetles had 50 percent or more of their basal circumference killed by fire. Bark beetle populations probably will increase in the remaining fire-injured trees.

Citation: Amman, Gene D. 1991. Bark beetle-fire associations in the greater Yellowstone area. In: Nodvin, Stephen C.; Waldrop, Thomas A., eds. Fire and the environment: ecological and cultural perspectives. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-GTR-69. Asheville, NC: USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. p. 313-320.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire & Bark Beetles, Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation
Ecosystem(s): Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Synthesis, Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 12033
FRAMES RCS number: 16146
Record updated: Apr 20, 2017