Document Type

Yellowstone National Park Report

First Page


Last Page



A research project was initiated in the summer of 1980 to study the effect of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreaks on forests dominated by lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. ssp. latifolia) in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), Wyoming. In the past twenty years, beetle outbreaks have become an increasing problem in the Park. These series of infestations first appeared in the Bechler Meadows area in the early 1960's, and have since spread northward with the most recent outbreaks occurring in stands along the Gallatin River. Based on aerial surveys, the highest concentration of beetle activity is currently centered in the West Yellowstone Madison River Canyon area of the Park. Since bark beetle infestations are a natural disturbance or perturbation similar to fire, knowledge of the structure and function of the forest on disturbed patches is vital to the ecological understanding of the landscape. Although the population ecology of mountain pine beetle in pine forests has been well documented (Coulson 1979), little has been done on their effect on ecosystem characteristics. Our approach has been to study 1) various nutrient cycling characteristics, 2) surviving tree growth, 3) succession, and 4) fuel accumulation patterns in a series of stands with different histories of beetle disturbance. The stands were selected to represent a chronosequence of beetle activity, dating from about 1965 to the present.