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    Author(s): Benjamin Bright; J. A. Hicke; A. T. Hudak
    Date: 2012
    Source: Environmental Research Letters. 7: 045702.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (343.0 KB)

    Description

    Bark beetle outbreaks kill billions of trees in western North America, and the resulting tree mortality can significantly impact local and regional carbon cycling. However, substantial variability in mortality occurs within outbreak areas. Our objective was to quantify landscape-scale effects of beetle infestations on aboveground carbon (AGC) stocks using field observations and remotely sensed data across a 5054 ha study area that had experienced a mountain pine beetle outbreak. Tree mortality was classified using multispectral imagery that separated green, red, and gray trees, and models relating field observations of AGC to LiDAR data were used to map AGC. We combined mortality and AGC maps to quantify AGC in beetle-killed trees. Thirty-nine per cent of the forested area was killed by beetles, with large spatial variability in mortality severity. For the entire study area, 40-50% of AGC was contained in beetle-killed trees. When considered on a per-hectare basis, 75-89% of the study area had >25% AGC in killed trees and 3-6% of the study area had >75% of the AGC in killed trees. Our results show that despite high variability in tree mortality within an outbreak area, bark beetle epidemics can have a large impact on AGC stocks at the landscape scale.

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    Citation

    Bright, B. C.; Hicke, J. A.; Hudak, A. T. 2012. Landscape-scale analysis of aboveground tree carbon stocks affected by mountain pine beetles in Idaho. Environmental Research Letters. 7: 045702.

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    Keywords

    mountain pine beetle, tree mortality, carbon, LiDAR, aerial imagery

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