The objective of the project is to assess the impact of MPB attack on lodgepole pine stand development in the absence of timber salvage or other management interventions. It builds on the work initiated in 2008 and will assess the following aspects of stand development.
- Rates of tree mortality and fall-down following MPB attack. Alberta forest managers are currently making various assumptions about rates of mortality and fall-down, based primarily on B.C. experience. Total, mean annual and current annual rates will be calculated for the first 6 years following detected attack.
- Natural regeneration of lodgepole pine without salvage or site preparation. The project will determine the total, mean annual and current annual rates of ingress by lodgepole pine and other acceptable coniferous species over the first 7 years following detected attack and determine if it is sufficient to produce a satisfactorily stocked stand under the Regeneration Standards of Alberta.
- Influence of site and stand variables on rates of tree mortality and regeneration. Natural sub-region, soil moisture regime, soil nutrient regime, over-storey stocking, and ground cone density have all demonstrated utility in predicting reforestation success in other FGYA studies and will be assessed in this project.
- Growth and abundance of non-tree vegetation and impact on tree regeneration. Growth and abundance of non-tree vegetation over the first 7 years following detected attack will be assessed against pre-attack levels. The relationship of these variables to tree regeneration stocking and height will be explored.
- Abundance of key wildlife food species will be affected by MPB attack. Selected food species will be tracked to 7 years following detected attack and assessed against pre-attack levels. Selection will focus on the requirements of caribou and grizzly bear with sampling protocols developed in collaboration with the fRI Grizzly Bear and Caribou Programs.
- The growth rate of residual trees and saplings. Testing of this hypothesis will be focused on growth of younger under-storey trees, and on the survival of non-attacked mature trees in the upper canopy.