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Impact of Mountain Pine Beetle Attack on Water Balance of Lodgepole Pine Forests in Alberta Open Access


Other title
mountain pine beetle
soil moisture
lodgepole pine
rainfall interception
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Pina Poujol, Pablo Cesar
Supervisor and department
Silins, Uldis (Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
Gamon, John (Biological Sciences and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Macdonald, S. Ellen (Renewable Resources)
Vose, James (USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station)
Hamann, Andreas (Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Water and Land Resources
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level

In recent decades mountain pine beetle (MPB) has become an important natural disturbance agent in western Canada, thus the impact of this disturbance will likely be an important component affecting water resources in this region. Despite the widespread recognition of the potential changes, there has been limited research focused on how MPB affects key hydrological processes in lodgepole pine forests throughout west central Alberta. To better understand how water inputs and outputs are modified at stand scales after the MPB attack I investigated: 1) the initial effects of simulated MPB on individual components of the stand water balance, including forest evapotranspiration (rainfall interception, transpiration and forest floor evaporation) and soil moisture as these components along with precipitation regulate water production from forested regions; and 2) the likely integrated effect of these components on the water balance of Alberta’s lodgepole pine forests. My research indicated that rainfall interception dominates the evaporative losses from mature lodgepole pine stands, and while the impact of MPB on water balance increases in proportion to the intensity of the attack, lower intensities of attack (affecting <1/3 of the stand) may not result in increased drainage or runoff because of increased water use by surviving trees. MPB impacts on forest water balance is likely greatest in the regions of Alberta where growing season precipitation is greatest. Thus, interactions among water balance components such as forest floor rainfall interception, and highly variable changes in transpiration can moderate the impacts of MPB on water balance across a gradient of increasing intensity of MPB attack. I also found that intensively MPB attacked forests can exhibit strong seasonal variations in drainage that parallels the distribution of summer rain. Thus, soil moisture during the growing season in attacked stands may not be as reliant on strong snowmelt recharge as in healthy forests. These findings are novel because impacts of MPB attack on the components regulating stand water balance have not been previously documented. Thus the combined effect of MPB on the processes that govern water cycling in MPB affected pine forests have been speculative prior to this study.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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