Author(s):
Peter C. Jentsch, Chris T. Bauch, Madhur Anand
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Topic(s):
Fire Ecology
Fire Effects
Fire & Fuels Modeling

NRFSN number: 23991
FRAMES RCS Number: 64013
Record updated: January 4, 2022

Bark beetle outbreaks and forest fires have imposed severe ecological damage and caused billions of dollars in lost resources in recent decades. The impact of such combined disturbances is projected to become more severe, especially as climate change takes its toll on forest ecosystems in the coming years. Here, we investigate the impact of multiple disturbances in a demographically heterogeneous tree population, using an age-structured difference equation model of bark beetle outbreaks and forest fires. We identify two dynamical regimes for beetle and fire dynamics. The model predicts that fire helps dampen beetle outbreaks not only by removing host trees but also by altering the demographic structure of forest stands. We show that a stand thinning protocol, which reduces the population size of the largest few juvenile classes by a small percentage, is able to significantly reduce beetle-induced tree mortality. Our research demonstrates one approach to capturing compound disturbances in a mathematical model.

Citation

Jentsch, Peter C.; Bauch, Chris T.; Anand, Madhur. 2021. Fire mitigates bark beetle outbreaks in serotinous forests. Theoretical Ecology 4(14):611-621.

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