Degradation of Wood in Standing Lodgepole Pine Killed by Mountain Pine Beetle
Keywords:Mountain pine beetle, decay, check, saprot, time-since-death, moisture content
AbstractLodgepole pine is widely distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest and is an important commercial species. Although outbreaks of mountain pine beetle can kill extensive areas of pine stands, little attention was paid to postmortality rate of wood quality and quantity deterioration until the most recent outbreak, which because of its unprecedented size has resulted in extensive salvage harvesting. We used dendrochronology to determine the exact year of mortality and destructive sampling to quantify change in wood characteristics with time. We also estimated the fall-down rate of dead trees. Most trees did not start to fall until 8 yr postmortality. We found that change in wood moisture content was the main driver behind changes in wood properties. Dependent variables included checking (number and depth), blue-stain depth, saprot, and damage caused by wood borers and were explained by a small collection of biophysical variables. Biogeoclimatic unit and soil moisture regime were not important predictors of decay and degrade, except for development of saprot at the base of trees. Wood quality significantly changed within the first 1-2 yr postmortality and varied with position along the stem followed by a period of relative stability.
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