But the precise effect of pine bark beetle plagues on the nitrogen cycle and carbon cycle is highly variable, says a research group led by the University of Idaho, who have used an ecosystem model to simulate outbreaks.
Yesterday they published their findings in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
“The fraction of trees killed, delay in snagfall, snagfall rate, and management decisions about harvesting killed trees will have major impacts on postoutbreak carbon fluxes for several decades and postoutbreak carbon stocks up to 100 years.”
Unfortunately – as the climate of the boreal forests warms more beetle larvae survive the winter months – large pine beetle outbreaks are no longer once in a century events.
The pine beetle story slowly starts to remind of a 250 million year old warning. Climate plagues can actually kill forests.
For the taiga let´s hope one day a kamikaze of woodpeckers will strike – the beetles that are currently plaguing British Columbia and Alberta will adapt to other pine tree species and subspecies and jump to Ontario’s forests, and beyond…
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org