Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins; MPB) is an aggressive bark beetle that attacks numerous Pinus spp. and causes extensive mortality in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon; LPP) forests in the western United States and Canada. We used pre-outbreak LPP attributes, cumulative MPB attack severity, and areal extent of mortality data to identify subwatershed-scale forest attributes associated with severe MPB-caused tree mortality that occurred across the Northern Rockies, USA from 1999-2014. We upscaled stand-level data to the subwatershed scale to allow identification of large LPP areas vulnerable to MPB. The highest mortality occurred in subwatersheds where LPP mean basal area was greater than 11.5 m2 ha-1 and LPP quadratic mean diameter was greater than or equal to 18 cm. A coarse assessment of federally-owned LPP-dominated forestland in the analysis area indicated about 42% could potentially be silviculturally treated. Silvicultural management may be a suitable option for many LPP forests, and our hazard model can be used to identify subwatersheds with LPP attributes associated with high susceptibility to MPB across landscape spatial scales. Identifying highly susceptible subwatersheds can help prioritize general areas for potential treatments, especially where spatially extensive areas of contiguous, highly susceptible LPP occur.
Williams, Howard; Hood, Sharon M.; Keyes, Christopher R.; Egan, Joel M.; Negron, Jose. 2018. Subwatershed-level lodgepole pine attributes associated with a mountain pine beetle outbreak. Forests. 9: 552.