Canadian Forest Service Publications

Historic Influence of the Mountain Pine Beetle on Stand Dynamics in Canada's Rocky Mountain Parks. 2006. Dykstra, P.R.; Braumandl, T. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. Mountain Pine Beetle Initiative Working Paper 2006-15. 75 p.

Year: 2006

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26602

Language: English

Series: Mountain Pine Beetle Working Paper (PFC - Victoria)

CFS Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)

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Forest disturbances such as the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) create ecological legacies that contribute to ecosystem recovery and help maintain biological processes. Ecological legacies include soil biota, live trees, standing and downed dead wood, and sources of seed. To help understand what habitat attributes we should seek in ecologically similar, recently disturbed managed forests to aid ecosystem recovery, we examined historic, unmanaged forests in two ecosystems in the Rocky Mountain national parks; one ecosystem in Kootenay, Banff and Yoho and one in Waterton Lakes. We measured structural attributes and species composition in circum-mesic forests disturbed by the mountain pine beetle 25 and 65 years before present. We found that the mountain pine beetle strongly influenced the structure and composition of the two studied ecosystems. The mountain pine beetle stimulated understory vegetation productivity, causing a sustained re-distribution of resources within stands. The mountain pine beetle increased the heterogeneity of stands and landscapes and created diverse pathways of stand development. This diversity created unique ecological legacies and post-disturbance assemblages of species across landscapes. Ecosystem recovery was apparent over the long term. However, because ecosystem recovery from mountain pine beetle disturbance appears to vary in different ecosystems, resilience to post beetle management actions such as salvage harvesting will likely also vary between ecosystems; the type and intensity of harvesting should reflect the sensitivity of ecosystems to additional disturbance.