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Interactions among Bark Beetles, Pathogens, and Conifers in North American Forests
L.K. Rieske-Kinney, F.A. Baker, S. Cook, B. Bentz, T.C. Harrington, P. Bonello
Department of Entomology
Bark beetles and pathogens interact to cause extensive losses in the forests of North America. Research results from this project will provide both fundamental understanding and management tools for pathogenic fungi and bark beetles.
2008 Project Description
My lab has been monitoring the impacts of outbreaking bark beetle populations on shortleaf pine forest structure and composition in central Appalachia, as well as loblolly pine forest structure and composition in the western gulf region, and investigating the ecological interactions associated with fire. Shortleaf pine stands devastated by the 1999-2001 southern pine beetle outbreak were censused 1 yr post-outbreak and again 5 yr post-outbreak using Common Stand Exam protocols. The Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) is being utilized to model beetle-affected stands, with and without fire. The 5-year data will be used to critically evaluate the accuracy of the Southern Variant of FVS. I am also investigating the use of FVS to predict forest changes associated with other invasive organisms (hemlock woolly adelgid, sudden oak death).
Naturally regenerating shortleaf pine suffers greater mortality, but grows larger in burned stands. Prescribed fire has no negative impact on larger, relatively mobile arthropods, but mites and collembolans are devastated. Insect herbivores play a role in seedling growth and survival, and their activity is affected by fire. Forest modeling predicts that subsequent disturbance from wildfire maintains forest composition relative to a single disturbance from southern pine beetle and management alone. Following disturbance from beetles and wildfire, natural regeneration of loblolly pine is predicted to produce stands moderately susceptible to future beetle outbreaks.
Coleman, T.W., J.R. Meeker, S.R. Clarke, and L.K. Rieske. 2008. The suppression of Dendroctonus frontalis and subsequent wildfire have an impact on forest stand dynamics. Applied Vegetation Science 11, 231-242.