Canadian Forest Service Publications

Prediction and assessment of bark beetle-induced mortality of lodgepole pine using estimates of stand vigor derived from remotely sensed data. 2009. Coops, N.C.; Waring, R.H.; Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C. Remote Sensing of Environment 113: 1058-1066.

Year: 2009

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 29544

Language: English

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

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2009.01.013

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The current outbreak of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) in British Columbia (BC), Canada, has led forest managers to consider thinning as a means of decreasing residual tree susceptibility to attack and subsequent mortality. Previous research indicates that susceptibility to mountain pine beetle is a function of a tree's physiological vigor and the intensity of attack. Trees able to produce = 80 g (g) of wood per m2 of projected leaf area annually are highly resistant, because they are able to shift resource allocation locally from wood to resin production to isolate blue-stain fungi introduced by attacking beetles. Typically, the leaf area of susceptible stands must be reduced by two-thirds to permit most residual trees to increase their vigor to a safe level. We evaluate whether Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery (30 × 30 m) provides a means to assess the maximum leaf area index (LAI) of unthinned stands and the extent that thinning reduces LAI. The extent that residual trees in thinned stands may have increased their resistance to attack from mountain pine beetle is predicted from a non-linear relationship between % maximum LAI and mean tree vigor.

We investigated the merits of this approach in the vicinity of Parson, British Columbia using four stands of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl.), two of which were heavily thinned (stands were spaced to 4 and 5 m, approximately 70% reduction in stand density). An analysis of archived Landsat TM imagery indicated that prior to thinning in 1993, all four stands had full canopy, which, for mature stands, would translate to mean tree vigor between 40 and 70 g of annual wood production per m2 of foliage. By 1995, based on estimated changes in LAI derived from a second data of Landsat TM imagery, stand vigor in the unthinned stands had not changed; however, in the thinned stands, a nearly two third reduction in LAI resulted in a predicted increase in vigor to between 100 and 160 g wood m- 2 of leaf area. A subsequent assessment in 2001 indicated that stand vigor remained higher in the thinned stands relative to the control stands. Following an infestation of mountain pine beetle in the study area in 2002, mortality data indicated that the thinned stands experienced no mortality relative to the unthinned stands which experienced 5.5% mortality in the initial years of the attack. In the larger area surrounding the study site, a general relationship was found between predicted stand vigor and mountain pine beetle-induced mortality as estimated from aerial overview survey data (r2 = 0.43, p < 0.01).

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