After causing widespread mortality in lodgepole pine forests in North America, the mountain pine beetle (MPB) has recently also affected ponderosa pine, an alternate host species that may have different levels of resilience to this disturbance. We collected field data in ponderosa pine- and lodgepole pine-dominated forests attacked by MPB in Colorado and then simulated stand growth over 200 years using the Forest Vegetation Simulator. We compared scenarios of no disturbance with scenarios of MPB-caused mortality, both with and without regeneration. Results indicated that basal area and tree density recovered to predisturbance levels relatively rapidly (within 1‐8 decades) in both forest types. However, convergence of the disturbed conditions with simulated undisturbed conditions took longer (12‐20+ decades) and was delayed by the absence of regeneration. In MPB-affected ponderosa pine forests without regeneration, basal area did not converge with undisturbed conditions within 200 years, implying lower resilience in this ecosystem. Surface fuels accumulated rapidly in both forest types after MPB-induced mortality, remaining high for 3‐6 decades in simulations. Our results suggest that future patterns of succession, regeneration, fuel loading, climate, and disturbance interactions over long time periods should be considered in management strategies addressing MPB effects in either forest type, but particularly in ponderosa pine.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Resilience of ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests to mountain pine beetle disturbance and limited regeneration|
|Series title||Forest Science|
|Contributing office(s)||Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center|