The introduction of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio) into North American waterways has led to widespread alteration of aquatic ecosystems. Control of this invader has proven extremely difficult due to its capacity for rapid population growth. To help understand how Common Carp can potentially be controlled we developed a population dynamics model (Carp-MOD) to explore the efficacy of active and passive control measures that impose mortality on multiple life stages (embryos, juveniles and adults). We applied CarpMOD to Common Carp in Malheur Lake, a large shallow lake in Southeast Oregon, USA. Simulated control measures included commercial harvest of adults, trapping of juveniles, embryo electroshocking, and passive removal imposed via avian predation. Results from CarpMOD suggest that no single active removal method would decrease Common Carp biomass below the targeted 50 kg/ha threshold. Combinations of two or all three active removal methods could, however, reduce biomass below the desired threshold due to cumulative mortality on multiple life stages. CarpMOD simulations suggest that the level of carp removal necessary to reach the desired biomass threshold is approximately 40% at each life-stage, which may be unrealistic to maintain over longer time scales. Passive removal via avian predation may also contribute to suppression of Common Carp, but was not sufficient in isolation to reduce biomass below the desired threshold. Collectively, our results indicate control of Common Carp as a sole means of ecosystem restoration is unlikely to be effective in the system we modeled. This suggests additional means of restoration may be warranted, perhaps in combination with control of Common Carp, or development of more effective control measures.
Exotic grasses are a widespread set of invasive species that are notable for their ability to significantly alter key aspects of ecosystem function. Understanding the role and importance of these invaders in forested landscapes has been limited but is now rising, as grasses from Eurasia and Africa continue to spread through ecosystems of the Americas, Australia, and many Pacific islands, where they threaten biodiversity and alter various aspects of the fire regime. The ecological, social and economic impacts of the grass-fire cycle associated with species such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) have been long recognized in aridlands such as the iconic sagebrush ecosystems of the western US. However, the damaging impacts of invasive grasses in forestlands have received considerably less attention. We review literature, conceptual models, model output, and empirical evidence that indicate grass invasion in forest ecosystems may be an important yet largely under-recognized phenomenon. In combination with climate change, wildfire, and overstory management, invasive grasses could create a “perfect storm” that threatens forest resilience. Invasive grasses can be successful in forested environments or develop strongholds within forested mosaics and could provide the literal seeds for rapid change and vegetation type conversion catalyzed by wildfire or changes in climate. Although invasive grass populations may now be on the edge of forests or consist of relatively rare populations with limited spatial extent, these species may disrupt stabilizing feedbacks and disturbance regimes if a grass-fire cycle takes hold, forcing large portions of forests into alternative nonforested states. In addition, forest management actions such as thinning, prescribed fire, and fuel reduction may actually exacerbate invasive grass populations and increase the potential for further invasion, as well as broader landscape level changes through increased fire spread and frequency. Lack of understanding regarding the ecological consequences and importance of managing invasive grasses as a fuel may lead to unintended consequences and outcomes as we enter an age of novel and rapid ecological changes. This paper focuses on the contributory factors, mechanisms, and interactions that may set the stage for unexpected forest change and loss, in an effort to raise awareness about the potential damaging impact of grass invasion in forested ecosystems.
Extensive bark beetle outbreaks have recently occurred in western North American forests, resulting in overstory tree mortality across millions of hectares. Annual aerial surveys are currently used to operationally monitor bark beetle induced tree mortality, though this method is subjective and can exclude some forest areas. Daily Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data oer a potential alternative means to develop regional tree mortality maps. Accurate methods using such data could aid natural resource managers in surveys of forests with frequent overstory mortality, helping to prioritize forest treatment and restoration activities. This paper discusses a study to test the potential of using MODIS data to detect tree mortality. We developed and tested an approach to use 250-m resolution MODIS Normalized Dierence Vegetation Index (NDVI) data products collected during a mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak and related tree mortality event in the northern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA. The 94 km2 study area is predominantly lodgepole pine forest with most of the MPB-caused mortality occurring between 2003 and 2008. We used a 2.4-m forest conditions map from 2008 aerial multispectral imagery to calculate percentage of mortality within 240-m pixels for use as reference data. Using either daily or 16-day products, MODIS NDVI change products were calculated for 2008 versus either 2000 or 2003 baselines. MODIS change products were used as predictors in linear regression analysis to assess correlation between MODIS data and the aerial percent forest mortality map. Depending on the MODIS product, linear regression analyses yielded r2 values ranging from 0.362 to 0.544 without outliers removed and from 0.406 to 0.570 with extreme outliers removed. Daily MODIS NDVI products from 2003 and 2008 were used with exponential regression to improve the r2 to 0.593. The project showed some MODIS NDVI data potential for mapping percent tree mortality in forests subjected to regional bark beetle outbreaks and severe drought.
Armillaria altimontana and A. solidipes frequently co-occur (McDonald et al. 2000) and are commonly found in association with western white pine (Pinus monticola). Armillaria solidipes (as A. ostoyae) is well-known as a virulent primary pathogen on diverse conifers within inland western regions of the contiguous USA (Lockman and Kearns 2016), whereas A. altimontana is considered to be a weak or secondary pathogen (Brazee et al. 2012). However, little has been documented about the impact of A. altimontana on tree health and growth.
Koa (Acacia koa Gray) is an endemic, keystone species in Hawai’i’s forests. Koa is valuable economically (contributed $30 million to Hawai’i’s forestry industry in 2001), ecologically (habitat for many endangered birds and insects), and culturally (koa is the main wood used for making Hawaiian canoes). Mortality of koa trees due to koa wilt (caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. koae; Foxy-koae) has been increasing, primarily in the low- to mid-elevation forests (Gardner 1980). Fusarium oxysporum (Foxy) is an important vascular wilt pathogen of many plant species worldwide (Leslie 2006). Foxy is highly variable and can be pathogenic or saprophytic without discernable, morphological differences. The origin of Foxy-koae strains that are virulent to koa in Hawaii is currently unknown.
Slow ecological processes challenge conservation. Short-term variability can obscure the importance of slower processes that may ultimately determine the state of a system. Furthermore, management actions with slow responses can be hard to justify. One response to slow processes is to explicitly concentrate analysis on state dynamics. Here, we focus on identifying drivers of Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) territorial occupancy dynamics across 11 study areas spanning their geographic range and forecasting response to potential management actions. Competition with Barred Owls (Strix varia) has increased Spotted Owl territory extinction probabilities across all study areas and driven recent declines in Spotted Owl populations. Without management intervention, the Northern Spotted Owl subspecies will be extirpated from parts of its current range within decades. In the short term, Barred Owl removal can be effective. Over longer time spans, however, maintaining or improving habitat conditions can help promote the persistence of northern spotted owl populations. In most study areas, habitat effects on expected Northern Spotted Owl territorial occupancy are actually greater than the effects of competition from Barred Owls. This study suggests how intensive management actions (removal of a competitor) with rapid results can complement a slower management action (i.e., promoting forest succession).
Bark beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, sf. Scolytinae) infestations modify fuels and, consequently, modeled fire behavior in conifer ecosystems of the Western United States (Hicke and others 2012, Jenkins and others 2014). Changes in fuels will vary with space and time since infestation, and impacts on fire behavior will be correspondingly complex (Simard and others 2011). Multiple studies have focused on quantifying fuels and modeled or observed fire behavior in currently infested (known as “red-stage” because killed trees still retain fading yellow-red needles) and recently infested (known as “gray-stage” because all needles have fallen, revealing the tree boles and branches) pine stands, particularly in lodgepole pine type (Pinus contorta). Less research has been conducted in “old-stage” stands (wherein beetle-killed trees have mostly fallen, the fallen needles have mostly decomposed, and advance regeneration forms ladder fuels), especially for relatively arid types such as ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) (Hicke and others 2012).
Scotch broom, Cytisus scoparius (L.) is a globally important nitrogen (N)-fixing invasive plant species that has potential to alter soil water dynamics, soil chemistry, and plant communities. We evaluated the effects of Scotch broom on soil moisture, soil chemistry, soil temperature, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and vegetation communities over 4 years at a site recently harvested for timber. Treatments of Scotch broom (either present via planting or absent) and background vegetation (either present or absent via herbicide treatments) were applied to 4 m2 plots. Background vegetation was associated with the greatest decrease of soil water content (SWC) among treatments. During the driest year, Scotch broom showed some evidence of increased early-and late-season soil water usage, and, briefly, a high usage relative to background vegetation plots. On a percent cover basis, Scotch broom had a substantially greater negative influence on SWC than did background vegetation. Surprisingly, Scotch broom was not consistently associated with increases in total soil N, but there was evidence of increasing soil water N when Scotch broom was present. Scotch broom-only plots had greater concentrations of soil water magnesium (Mg2+) and calcium (Ca2+) than other treatments. On a percent cover basis, Scotch broom had a uniquely high demand for potassium (K+) relative to the background vegetation. Average soil temperature was slightly greater, and soil surface PAR lower, with Scotch broom present. Scotch broom-absent plots increased in species diversity and richness over time, while Scotch broom-present plots remained unchanged. Scotch broom presence was associated with an increase in cover of nonnative sweet vernalgrass (Anthoxanthum odoratum L.). Scotch broom generated positive feedbacks with resource conditions that favored its dominance and the establishment of nonnative grass.