Effects of green tree retention and prescribed burning on the crown damage caused by the pine shoot beetles (Tomicus spp.) in pine-dominated timber harvest areas


Author's address: Petri Martikainen (corresponding author), Faculty of Forest Sciences, University of Joensuu, PO Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland. E-mail: petri.martikainen@joensuu.fi


Abstract:  We explored how two recently introduced methods to promote biodiversity during the timber harvest in boreal forests – green tree retention and use of fire – may affect damages caused by pine shoot beetles (Tomicus piniperda and Tomicus minor; Col., Scolytinae) in the surrounding pine forests. The experimental design included 24 separate study sites, 3–5 ha each, which were assigned to different treatments according to factorial design. Retention levels included 0, 10, 50 m3/ha and uncut controls. Twelve of the sites were burned and thus there were three replicates of each treatment combination. Old and new fallen pine shoots were counted from transects in adjacent pine-dominated forests 2 and 3 years after the treatments. Populations of Tomicus spp. in the sites were monitored using window traps before and after the treatments, and by examining felled sample trees. Numbers of fallen shoots returned to background levels around unburned and burned clearcuts with no retention trees in 3 years after the treatments, but remained still at increased level in burned harvested sites with 10 and 50 m3 of retained trees per hectare. Numbers of fallen shoots in burned uncut forests increased in one site only, where the fire was intense enough to kill large pine trees, but the damage did not extend outside the burned area. Shoot numbers remained at such low levels (<18 000 shoots/ha) in all treatment combinations that growth losses were not likely. Numbers of egg galleries of Tomicus spp. in trees killed by fire were low, indicating that burnings that take place after the swarming of Tomicus beetles create dead wood that is not optimal for the breeding of these pests. We conclude that green tree retention and prescribed use of fire do not automatically affect populations of Tomicus spp. more than traditional forestry operations (thinnings and clearcuttings) do.