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Overlapping bark beetle outbreaks, salvage logging and wildfire restructure a lodgepole pine ecosystem

Author(s): Charles C. Rhoades, Kristen Pelz, Paula J. Fornwalt, Brett Wolk, Anthony S. Cheng
Year Published: 2018
Description:

The 2010 Church’s Park Fire burned beetle-killed lodgepole pine stands in Colorado, including recently salvage-logged areas, creating a fortuitous opportunity to compare the effects of salvage logging, wildfire and the combination of logging followed by wildfire. Here, we examine tree regeneration, surface fuels, understory plants, inorganic soil nitrogen and water infiltration in uncut and logged stands, outside and inside the fire perimeter. Subalpine fir recruitment was abundant in uncut, unburned, beetle-killed stands, whereas lodgepole pine recruitment was abundant in cut stands. Logging roughly doubled woody fuel cover and halved forb and shrub cover. Wildfire consumed all conifer seedlings in uncut and cut stands and did not stimulate new conifer regeneration within four years of the fire. Aspen regeneration, in contrast, was relatively unaffected by logging or burning, alone or combined. Wildfire also drastically reduced cover of soil organic horizons, fine woody fuels, graminoids and shrubs relative to unburned, uncut areas; moreover, the compound effect of logging and wildfire was generally similar to wildfire alone. This case study documents scarce conifer regeneration but ample aspen regeneration after a wildfire that occurred in the later stage of a severe beetle outbreak. Salvage logging had mixed effects on tree regeneration, understory plant and surface cover and soil nitrogen, but neither exacerbated nor ameliorated wildfire effects on those resources.

Citation: Rhoades, Charles C.; Pelz, Kristen A.; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Wolk, Brett H.; Cheng, Antony S. 2018. Overlapping bark beetle outbreaks, salvage logging and wildfire restructure a lodgepole pine ecosystem. Forests 9(3):101. doi:10.3390/f9030101
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Wildlife, Fire & Wildlife, Invertebrates, Mountain pine beetles, Fuels, Fuels Inventory & Monitoring, Post-fire Management, Salvage Logging
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 17365
FRAMES RCS number: 25856
Record updated: Sep 4, 2019