Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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Wildfire and bark beetle epidemics are two ecologically important natural disturbances in the Intermountain West, yet we know very little about how these two phenomena interact. It is widely believed that beetle-killed trees increase the risk of severe fires; and trees that are weakened, but not killed by fire, are thought to be more susceptible to beetle invasion. However, few studies have rigorously tested these hypotheses. The GYE is currently experiencing an outbreak of unprecedented intensity and complexity, involving several species of bark beetles, including the mountain pine beetle. The outbreak is affecting multiple species of coniferous trees in and near recently burned areas, providing a timely opportunity to investigate these interactions at multiple scales.