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QUANTIFYING THE IMPACT OF A MASSIVE MOUNTAIN PINE BEETLE OUTBREAK ON CARBON, WATER, AND NITROGEN CYCLING AND REGENERATION OF SOUTHERN WYOMING LODGEPOLE PINE FORESTS
An unprecedented and massive mountain pine beetle (MPB) epidemic is sweeping through lodgepole pine forests of western North America. The lodgepole pine forests of southern Wyoming will not be spared. Yet, little is known about how this mature tree mortality will impact the natural resource base and sustainability of the crucial ecosystem services these forests provide. This project will determine how MPB will impact carbon, water and nitrogen cycles in the first three years of an epidemic. We will quantify the total exchange and components of carbon and water cycling to test hypotheses on how variability in tree mortality, driven by previous forest management activities, affects these ecosystem properties. Additionally, we will couple aboveground water and carbon fluxes to belowground ecosystem impacts by monitoring soil moisture and temperature and their effects on drainage, nitrogen cycling and carbon storage. The data collected from this project will not only lead to multiple publications, but will also establish baseline data necessary to compete for planned USDA and NSF proposal submission. This project will enhance higher education through the instruction of a graduate student, and by providing opportunities for undergraduate internships. We expect to generate new knowledge on protecting and understanding the natural resource base of southern Wyoming, and will utilize open channels of communication with federal forest managers to enhance outreach of this new knowledge.
USDA CRIS Project Information Link: 0217074