Canadian Forest Service Publications

Advance regeneration and trajectories of stand development following the mountain pine beetle outbreak in boreal forests of British Columbia

Year: 2015

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 41096

Language: English

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A mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak has recently spread into boreal forests, with unknown consequences for this ecosystem. We intensively sampled 12 stands affected by the current outbreak in northern British Columbia to determine the potential of western boreal forests to recover from this novel disturbance. We sampled the species composition, size structure, and spatial distribution (using 5 m × 5 m subplots, 40 per stand) of live and dead trees and used a variety of analyses, including ordinations, to assess potential developmental trajectories of stands. Advance regeneration (stems < 10 m tall) varied greatly in abundance among stands (50–18 280 stems·ha−1). However, most subplots contained at least one individual; only three stands had many empty subplots. We conclude that most stands have enough advance regeneration and residual canopy trees to form a nearly continuous new canopy. Ordinations indicate that species composition will shift substantially and become more divergent among stands. Species of high economic value will remain common, though, and active management will not be necessary in most stands to maintain productive forests. However, this novel disturbance will have very different effects on these forests than the typical fire-disturbance regime and is likely to deflect these forests into new successional trajectories.