Do severe wildfires make forests in the western United States more susceptible to future bark beetle outbreaks?
The answer, in a study published Monday (Nov. 7, 2016) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is no. By leading to variability in the density and size of trees that grow during recovery, large fires reduce the future vulnerability of forests to bark beetle attacks and broad-scale outbreaks.
“Fire creates a very heterogeneous landscape,” says study co-author Kenneth Raffa, professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Beetles can only reproduce in an individual tree once, so they take advantage of this patch of trees and that patch of trees as they become available, but when the number and size of trees vary a lot, it’s hard for a large outbreak to develop.”
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-11-variable-tree-growth-forests-future.html#jCp
There are killing machines on the loose in California and the entire Western region.
They’re found in packs and look for the weak but they’re not the scary predator you’d imagine. In fact, they’re about the size of a rice grain.
They’re called bark beetles.
A June 2016 Cal Fire report stated the ongoing drought in combination with the tiny insects are responsible for killing about 66 million trees in California since 2010. That’s up from 29 million trees in 2015 and 3.3 million in 2014, according to the report.
California has suffered more than 5,000 wildfires this year, and we’ve only reached the beginning of the season. Just last week, more than 10,000 firefighters were battling blazes throughout the state – fires largely fueled by already-dead, dry trees.
But many of those trees aren’t dying of old age. They were killed by one tiny culprit: the bark beetle.