Long-Term Effects of Thinning and Prescribed Fire on Tree Growth and Bark Beetle Demography in a Jeffrey Pine Stand
AuthorSwim, Shannon Linden
AdvisorWalker, Roger F
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
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Forest thinnings implemented with cut-to-length and whole-tree harvesting systems followed by underburning were evaluated for their effects on long-term individual tree and stand level growth responses as well as bark beetle demography in pure, uneven-aged Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi Grev. & Balf.) accompanied by isolated California white fir (Abies concolor var. lowiana [Gord.] Lemm.). Based on both dimension and volume growth measures, trees of the unburned whole-tree treatment combination exhibited the greatest individual growth responses. At the stand level, a diminished volume growth response in the whole-tree treatment was especially pronounced in the burned portion, mostly attributable to exaggerated stocking losses, while a superior response in the unburned cut-to-length combination likely reflected not only the absence of detrimental fire impacts but also the benefits of on-site slash retention. For stand level biomass, diminished growth in the whole-tree treatment was again evident, with that in the burned portion again most pronounced, while biomass accrual in the unburned cut-to-length treatment combination was generally comparable to that in the unthinned control. Regarding bark beetle prevalence as quantified through pitch tube counts, the Jeffrey pine beetle (Dendroctonus jeffreyi Hopkins) generally preferred larger trees before treatment implementation, but after exhibiting mixed pretreatment tendencies concerning stand density demonstrated a posttreatment proclivity toward higher density. Cut-to-length thinning followed by underburning increased the pine beetle population while whole-tree thinning unaccompanied by burning reduced it. Tree mortality was induced by the bark beetle infestation but was not its sole cause. Pitch tube abundance on white fir far exceeded that on Jeffrey pine, and the greatest influence on the fir engraver (Scolytus ventralis LeConte) population was the prevalence of its host tree. Increasingly utilized in forest restoration efforts in the western USA, the responses presented herein to these thinning and burning practices provide natural resource managers insight into potentially compromised outcomes when implemented in Jeffrey pine and similar dry site forest types.