Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

 Due to a lapse in federal funding, this USDA website will not be actively updated. Once funding has been reestablished, online operations will continue.

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Charles C. Rhoades; James H. McCutchan; Leigh A. Cooper; David Clow; Thomas M. Detmer; Jennifer S. Briggs; John D. Stednick; Thomas T. Veblen; Rachel M. Ertz; Gene E. Likens; William M. Lewis
    Date: 2013
    Source: PNAS. 110(5): 1756-1760.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (0 B)


    A current pine beetle infestation has caused extensive mortality of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in forests of Colorado and Wyoming; it is part of an unprecedented multispecies beetle outbreak extending from Mexico to Canada. In United States and European watersheds, where atmospheric deposition of inorganic N is moderate to low (<10 kg�ha�y), disturbance of forests by timber harvest or violent storms causes an increase in stream nitrate concentration that typically is close to 400% of predisturbance concentrations. In contrast, no significant increase in streamwater nitrate concentrations has occurred following extensive tree mortality caused by the mountain pine beetle in Colorado. A model of nitrate release from Colorado watersheds calibrated with field data indicates that stimulation of nitrate uptake by vegetation components unaffected by beetles accounts for significant nitrate retention in beetle-infested watersheds. The combination of low atmospheric N deposition (<10 kg�ha�y), tree mortality spread over multiple years, and high compensatory capacity associated with undisturbed residual vegetation and soils explains the ability of these beetle-infested watersheds to retain nitrate despite catastrophic mortality of the dominant canopy tree species.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Rhoades, Charles C.; McCutchan, James H., Jr.; Cooper, Leigh A.; Clow, David; Detmer, Thomas M.; Briggs, Jennifer S.; Stednick, John D.; Veblen, Thomas T.; Ertz, Rachel M.; Likens, Gene E.; Lewis, William M., Jr. 2013. Biogeochemistry of beetle-killed forests: Explaining a weak nitrate response. PNAS. 110(5): 1756-1760.


    Google Scholar


    nitrogen biogeochemistry, streamwater chemistry, nitrate loss, watershed disturbance, mountain pine beetle

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page