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Thinning reduces mountain pine beetle-caused tree mortality

Date: October 12, 2017

A recent study examined tree mortality levels caused by mountain pine beetle in ponderosa pine stands in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming


Background

A recent study in the Black Hills compared tree mortality in stands where tree density was reduced compared to stands where no treatment had been conducted. Previous studies had demonstrated the benefit of lowering tree densities to reduce mortality levels caused by bark beetles but most studies have focused on small plots. This study had sampled stands ranging from 35 acres to 365 acres and were widely distributed across the 6,000 square miles of the Black Hills. Results indicate a significant reduction in tree mortality in stands with lower tree densities.

A dense forest stand susceptible to bark beetles
A dense forest stand susceptible to bark beetles
A forest stand that has been treated to remove density and improve resilience to bark beetles
A forest stand that has been treated to remove density and improve resilience to bark beetles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Findings

  • Reductions in tree density can reduce tree mortality levels caused by mountain pine beetle.

  • Large-scale thinnings across large areas can mitigate landscape-level tree mortality.

Featured Publications

Negron, Jose ; Allen, Kurt K. ; Ambourn, Angie ; Cook, Blaine ; Marchand, Kenneth , 2017


Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
K.K. Allen and A. Ambourn, Region 2 Forest Health
B. Cook, and K. Marchand, Black Hills National Forest
Research Location: 
Black Hills National Forest