Canadian Forest Service Publications

Ecoregional Patterns of Spruce Budworm—Wildfire Interactions in Central Canada’s Forests. 2018. Candau, J.-N.; Fleming, R.A.; Wang, X. Forests 9(3):137.

Year: 2018

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39086

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.3390/f9030137

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Plain Language Summary

Wildfires and outbreaks of the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.), are the two dominant natural disturbances in Canada’s boreal forest. While both disturbances have specific impacts on forest ecosystems, it is increasingly recognized that their interactions also have the potential for non-linear behavior and long-lasting legacies on forest ecosystems’ structures and functions. Previously, we showed that, in central Canada, fires occurred with a disproportionately higher frequency during a ‘window of opportunity’ following spruce budworm defoliation. In this study, we use Ontario’s spatial databases for large fires and spruce budworm defoliation to locate where these two disturbances likely interacted. Classification tree and Random Forest procedures were then applied to find how spruce budworm defoliation history, climate, and forest conditions best predict the location of such budworm–fire interactions. Results indicate that such interactions likely occurred in areas geographically bound by hardwood content in the south, the prevalence of the three major spruce budworm host species (balsam fir, white spruce and black spruce) in the north, and climate moisture in the west. The occurrence of a spruce budworm–fire interaction inside these boundaries is related to the frequency of spruce budworm defoliation. These patterns provide a means of distinguishing regions where spruce budworm attacks are likely to increase fire risk.