Canadian Forest Service Publications

Factors affecting the ecological legacy of unsalvaged post-mountain pine beetle stands. 2009. Chan-McLeod, A.C.; Zhu, X.; Klinkenberg, B. Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre, Victoria, BC. Mountain Pine Beetle Working Paper 2008-19. 20 p.

Year: 2009

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 29236

Language: English

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

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


The overall objective of this research is to provide information about the short-term ecological legacy of unsalvaged mountain pine beetle-infested stands in the Prince George and Vanderhoof Forest Regions as reflected in the avian community. Our results indicated that in the short term following beetle attack (< 5 years), non-mountain pine beetle factors such as the pre-existing stand structure, pre-existing site features (i.e., presence of a riparian area), and interannual variations resulting most likely from climate and other non-mountain pine beetle factors, were as important or more important than the mountain pine beetle in dictating bird abundance. However, the beetle did have measurable effects on avian abundance, with approximately 64% of individual bird species and 62% of avian community variables responding to the level of beetle infestation within the stand. The type of effect was species- or guild-dependent and generally reflected the natural history of the bird. Time since death of the tree within the first 4-5 years post-attack did not measurably affect most birds, affecting at most only 36% of the species and 12% of the avian community variables measured in this study. The relatively low impact of the mountain pine beetle on avian communities up to 5 years post-attack indicates that there are few ecological reasons for salvage logging immediately post-beetle. The fact that many birds responded significantly to the presence and intensity of beetle attack, but relatively few responded to the time since death of the tree up to 5 years post-attack, strongly underscored the continuing role of the beetle-attacked forest in supporting bird habitat. The potential contradiction between ecological and economic objectives over salvage logging in the short term stresses the importance of clear, explicitly-stated goals. This need is further underscored by the fact that different bird species respond differently to the mountain pine beetle, and management goals must be species- or guild-specific. Because our study results are applicable to only recently attacked stands (<5 years post-beetle), more research is needed to address how the ecological legacy of beetle-killed stands changes over the mid- and long-terms. Although time since death of a tree was not a major determinant of abundance for most species for the first few years post-attack, this will likely change as the stand continues to break up.

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