The central interior of British Columbia is experiencing the largest recorded mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak in history. Contrary to endemic beetle populations that thin stands from above by selecting and killing the largest and generally more mature trees, epidemic populations attack and kill a larger range of diameter classes and significantly impact a stand?s composition and structure (Safranyik et al. 1974). On June 1, 2002, the allowable annual cut (AAC) for the Prince George Timber Supply Area (TSA) was increased by 30% to help suppress the spread of mountain pine beetle. In 2004, due to limited knowledge on the shelf life (decay rates) of MPB-killed trees, an additional increase of 22% was allowed for the salvage of pine forests in order to mitigate timber losses (Eng 2004). While harvesting all infested timber would not be possible or feasible, large-scale clearcutting is typically used to deal with large outbreaks. This colossal MPB outbreak, along with large-scale salvage operations, will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the shape and composition of landscapes, and biodiversity in general. Unfortunately, there is limited information on the effects of beetle outbreaks on wildlife habitats and populations. Past research focused mainly on beetle physiology, and pest/host interaction (Reid 1963; Cole and Amman 1969; Amman 1972; Safranyik 1978). Approximately 160 vertebrate species inhabit Prince George forestlands (Proulx 2000a,b,c). Eight of these species, which are all associated with late-successional stands, are considered at risk (Proulx et al. 2004, 2005a). Because mountain pine beetles prefer large diameter trees (Safranik 2004), stand structural changes due to infestations undoubtedly impact species at risk and an array of animal and plant species living in mature and old-growth stands (Smith et al. 2000; Paige 2003; Proulx et al. 2005a,b). Conversely, MPB infestations benefit insectivorous species such as Picoides woodpecker species (Koplin 1969, 1972; Bergvinson and Borden 1992).
by Timberline Forest Inventory Consultants Ltd.
Timberline Forest Inventory Consultants Ltd.. 2007. Biodiversity investigations in pine areas within the Prince George forest district: sample plan. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report. FIA2007MR196