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Comparing the impacts of mitigation and non-mitigation on mountain pine beetle populations
- Coggins, Sam B., Coops, Nicholas C., Wulder, Michael A., Bater, Christopher W., Ortlepp, Stephanie M.
- Journal of environmental management 2011 v.92 no.1 pp. 112-120
- Dendroctonus ponderosae, Pinus contorta var. latifolia, forest stands, harvesting, landscapes, models, monitoring, prediction, risk reduction, sanitation, trees, British Columbia
- Mountain pine beetles, Dendroctonus ponderosae (Hopkins) attack and can ultimately kill individuals and groups of pine trees, specifically lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex. Loud var. latifolia Engl.). In British Columbia, beetle attack has increased from 164 000 ha in 1999 to over 13 million ha in 2008. Mitigation efforts can play a key role in addressing the impact beetle infestations can have on the forested landscape. In this research, the impact of mitigation on a mountain pine beetle infestation is examined within a network of 28 research plots where sanitation harvesting was completed (10 mitigated plots) and not completed (18 unmitigated plots). Three forest stand level modelling scenarios which predict the number of attacked trees, based on current infestation within the plots, were utilized to compare the differences between mitigated and non-mitigated plots. In the first scenario in the non-mitigated plots, 125 trees were infested after 10 years, while in the mitigated plots no trees were infested in the same time period. The second scenario indicates the level of mitigation required to suppress beetle infestations where the proportion of mitigated trees was calculated for each plot by counting the residual attack and the number of mitigated trees. The average mitigation rate over all plots of 43% (range 0–100%) is not sufficient to provide control. In the non-mitigated plots, the average population expansion rate was 5 (range of 0–18) which requires a detection accuracy of 74% to reliably detect infestation. The third scenario estimated the length of time required for ongoing detection, monitoring, and mitigation to bring an infestation under control. If mitigation efforts were maintained at the current rate of 43%, the beetle population would not be adequately controlled. However, when aided by continued detection and monitoring of attacked trees, mitigation rates greater than 50% are sufficient to control infestations, especially with persistent implementation, aided by continued detection and monitoring of infested trees.