Forest composition following overstory mortality from southern pine beetle and associated treatments

T. W. Coleman, Stephen R. Clarke, James R. Meeker, L. K. Rieske

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Bark beetle caused mortality continues to play a critical role in determining the composition and structure of forests in North America, and revegetation dynamics following these disturbances are poorly understood. We assessed forest composition following southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann, mortality and associated cut and leave suppression, and compared them with undisturbed loblolly pine, Pinus taeda L., stands in Texas. Abundant hardwood regeneration dominated the understory, with little loblolly pine regeneration following either mortality event. Disturbances eliminated loblolly pine dominance in these even-aged stands, thus stratifying forest structure and apparently increasing stem density (stems·ha-1), richness (species·ha-1), and diversity (ha) in the lower strata. Aspect and elevation, presumably through influences on site moisture, were the primary gradients associated with vegetation variation in the canonical correspondence analyses for new regeneration. Mortality from Dendroctonus and cut and leave practices shifted loblolly pine communities to mixed upland hardwoods in model predictions generated by the southern variant of the Forest Vegetation Simulator. In addition to being an effective bark beetle control, cut and leave suppression did not alter predicted forest composition 50 years hence when compared with unsuppressed bark beetle-caused mortality. Because of the predicted shift to hardwood domination and a low pine basal area, it is expected that mortality from D. frontalis and cut and leave will substantially reduce future hazards from D. frontalis outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1406-1418
Number of pages13
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology

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