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Patterns of woodboring beetle activity following fires and bark beetle outbreaks in montane forests of California, USAAuthor(s): Chris Ray; Daniel R. Cluck; Robert L. Wilkerson; Rodney B. Siegel; Angela M. White; Gina L. Tarbill; Sarah C. Sawyer; Christine A. Howell
Source: Fire Ecology. 15: 21
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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Background: Increasingly frequent and severe drought in the western United States has contributed to more
frequent and severe wildfires, longer fire seasons, and more frequent bark beetle outbreaks that kill large
numbers of trees. Climate change is expected to perpetuate these trends, especially in montane ecosystems,
calling for improved strategies for managing Western forests and conserving the wildlife that they support.
Woodboring beetles (e.g., Buprestidae and Cerambycidae) colonize dead and weakened trees and speed
succession of habitats altered by fire or bark beetles, while serving as prey for some early-seral habitat
specialists, including several woodpecker species. To understand how these ecologically important beetles
respond to different sources of tree mortality, we sampled woodborers in 16 sites affected by wildfire or bark
beetle outbreak in the previous one to eight years. Study sites were located in the Sierra Nevada, Modoc
Plateau, Warner Mountains, and southern Cascades of California, USA. We used generalized linear mixed
models to evaluate hypotheses concerning the response of woodboring beetles to disturbance type, severity,
and timing; forest stand composition and structure; and tree characteristics.
Results: Woodborer activity was often similar in burned and bark beetle outbreak sites, tempered by localized
responses to bark beetle activity, burn severity, tree characteristics, and apparent response to ignition date.
Larval woodborer activity was inversely related to bark beetle sign within a sampling quadrat, was higher on
pines, and—in burned sites—was higher on the south-facing sides of smaller trees. Adults—especially
buprestids—were more abundant where burn severity was higher. Fires with intermediate ignition dates
during the study period supported higher rates of larval woodborer activity and higher numbers of adult
buprestids as well as cerambycids in the genus Monochamus Dejean 1821.
Conclusions: Woodboring beetle abundance was related to bark beetle activity, burn severity, tree
characteristics, and ignition date. Considering these patterns when managing disturbed forest stands could
yield improved outcomes for wildlife, including species that prey on woodboring beetles. We also reported
preliminary evidence that the current trend toward more frequent wildfires might not stimulate larger
woodboring beetle populations if those fires increasingly occur outside the historical fire season.
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CitationRay, Chris; Cluck, Daniel R.; Wilkerson, Robert L.; Siegel, Rodney B.; White, Angela M.; Tarbill, Gina L.; Sawyer, Sarah C.; Howell, Christine A. 2019. Patterns of woodboring beetle activity following fires and bark beetle outbreaks in montane forests of California, USA. Fire Ecology. 15: 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42408-019-0040-1.
KeywordsBuprestidae, burn severity, Cerambycidae, fire season, forest management, Scolytinae, snags, succession, wildfire, woodborers
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