A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Effects of climate change on ecological disturbance in the Northern Rockies (Chapter 7)

Author(s): Rachel A. Loehman, Barbara J. Bentz, Gregg DeNitto, Robert E. Keane, Mary Manning, Jacob P. Duncan, Joel M. Egan, Marcus B. Jackson, Sandra Kegley, I. Blakley Lockman, Dean E. Pearson, James A. Powell, Steve Shelly, Brytten E. Steed, Paul J. Zambino
Editor(s): Jessica E. Halofsky, David L. Peterson
Year Published: 2018

Disturbances alter ecosystem, community, or population structures and change elements of the biological and/or physical environment. Climate changes can alter the timing, magnitude, frequency, and duration of disturbance events, as well as the interactions of disturbances on a landscape, and climate change may already be affecting disturbance events and regimes. Interactions among disturbance regimes, such as the co-occurrence in space and time of bark beetle outbreaks and wildfires, can result in highly visible, rapidly occurring, and persistent changes in landscape composition and structure. Understanding how altered disturbance patterns and multiple disturbance interactions might result in novel and emergent landscape behaviors is critical for addressing climate change impacts and for designing land management strategies that are appropriate for future climates. This chapter describes the ecology of important disturbance regimes in the Northern Rockies region, and potential shifts in these regimes as a consequence of observed and projected climate change. We summarize five disturbance types present in the Northern Rockies that are sensitive to a changing climate—wildfires, bark beetles, white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), other forest diseases, and nonnative plant invasions—and provide information that can help managers anticipate how, when, where, and why climate changes may alter the characteristics of disturbance regimes.

Citation: Loehman, Rachel A.; Bentz, Barbara J.; DeNitto, Gregg A.; Keane, Robert E.; Manning, Mary E.; Duncan, Jacob P.; Egan, Joel M.; Jackson, Marcus B.; Kegley, Sandra; Lockman, I. Blakey; Pearson, Dean E.; Powell, James A.; Shelly, Steve; Steed, Brytten E.; Zambino, Paul J. 2018. Effects of climate change on ecological disturbance in the Northern Rockies (Chapter 7). Pages 115-141. In: Halofsky, Jessica E.; Peterson, David L. (editors). Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Advances in Global Change Research 63.
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Fire & Climate
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 17279
FRAMES RCS number: 25522
Record updated: Apr 3, 2018