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Mountain pine beetle outbreak and ectomycorrhizal feedback: the ecology of recovery in beetle killed forests Open Access


Other title
nutrient cycling
white spruce
soil chemistry
lodgepole pine
moutain pine beetle
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Cigan, Paul W
Supervisor and department
James F. Cahill, Jr. (Biological Sciences)
Nadir Erbilgin (Department of Renewable Resources)
Examining committee member and department
M. Derek MacKenzie (Department of Renewable Resources)
Victor J. Lieffers (Department of Renewable Resources)
Department of Renewable Resources
Forest Biology and Management
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The expansion of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae; MPB) into naïve host ecosystems has been met by gaps in two key areas of research: (A) affects on the chemistry of forest soils, and (B) impacts on the regeneration of tree seedlings. To investigate linkages between both, we paired observational field and experimental greenhouse studies. In the field study, we used a natural continuum of recent (0-3 yrs) MPB-caused tree mortality (0-84%) in naïve lodgepole pine-dominated (Pinus contorta) forests in northwestern Alberta, to quantify impacts of MPB outbreak on: (1) input rates of pine needle-derived nutrients; (2) supply rates of plant-available nutrients; (3) concentrations of soil phenols. We found positive associations between tree mortality and pine needle nutrient concentrations (of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) and inputs (of nitrogen and phosphorus). The supply rates for plant available nitrate, and concentrations of soil phenols were altered by MPB disturbance. In the greenhouse study, we tested the main effects and interactions of (1) light intensity, (2) pine needle litter addition, and (3) soil inoculation on first-year growth of seedlings of lodgepole pine and white spruce (Picea glauca). Soil inoculation had the greatest impact on accumulations of biomass, and sugar and starch reserves. Seedlings of lodgepole pine grown with inocula originating from uninfested stands had enhanced biomass accumulation relative to controls; accumulation was reduced when seedlings were inoculated with soils from MPB-infested stands. Changes in soil microbial communities may limit pine regeneration following outbreak, but field studies are needed confirm this effect.
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