Our new paper, lead by my colleagues at Colorado State University and published in the journal PLOS ONE, investigates the short-term compounded effects of spruce beetle and wildfire in subalpine forests in southwestern Colorado. We think this work is noteworthy because areas that were more heavily affected by spruce beetle corresponded to reduced post-fire vegetation. These results suggest vegetation recovery processes may be negatively impacted by severe spruce beetle outbreaks occurring within a decade of stand-replacing fire. Much of the current subalpine forest in this region has been impacted by recent beetle outbreaks. In the future, these areas could experience higher burn severity which has important implications for the structure and composition of future forests.
- Carlson, A.R., J.S. Sibold, T.J. Assal, J.F. Negron. 2017. Evidence of compounded disturbance effects on vegetation recovery following high-severity wildfire and spruce beetle outbreak. PLoS ONE. 12(8): e0181778. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181778.
*Banner image: beetle-induced tree mortality photographed on Little Mountain, Wyoming.