New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Tree loss from bark-beetle infestation impacts elk habitat

Date:
February 6, 2019
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
Although elk typically adapt to forest disturbances such as forest fires and logging, a new study found that during the summer, elk avoided areas with extensive tree mortality that has occurred due to the bark-beetle epidemic in the northern portions of the Rocky Mountains in the United States.
Share:
FULL STORY

Although elk typically adapt to forest disturbances such as forest fires and logging, a new Journal of Wildlife Management study found that during the summer, elk avoided areas with extensive tree mortality that has occurred due to the bark-beetle epidemic in the northern portions of the Rocky Mountains in the United States.

Avoidance of beetle-killed forest by elk during the summer has led to a decline in preferred habitat for elk that will be of importance to many wildlife and land managers responsible for managing elk populations in areas impacted by the bark-beetle epidemic.

"Although it is common following forest disturbances for elk to seek out and capitalize on the resulting increases in highly palatable and nutritious forage, during the summer months, elk in our study area fairly consistently avoided beetle-kill. This result is somewhat counter to how we typically think elk respond to forest disturbances," said lead author Bryan G. Lamont, of the University of Wyoming. "It appears there are some subtle, but real differences between disturbances such as forest fires and the bark-beetle epidemic."

Lamont noted that for elk in the study, the increases in the number of downed trees and loss of canopy cover seemed to outweigh the meager increases in understory in bark-beetle affected areas. "Ultimately this means that if elk are avoiding beetle-kill areas, this translates to much less forest habitat that elk typically would utilize during the summer," he said.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Wiley. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bryan G. Lamont, Kevin L. Monteith, Jerod A. Merkle, Tony W. Mong, Shannon E. Albeke, Matthew M. Hayes, Matthew J. Kauffman. Multi‐scale habitat selection of elk in response to beetle‐killed forest. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 2019; DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21631

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Tree loss from bark-beetle infestation impacts elk habitat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190206091348.htm>.
Wiley. (2019, February 6). Tree loss from bark-beetle infestation impacts elk habitat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190206091348.htm
Wiley. "Tree loss from bark-beetle infestation impacts elk habitat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190206091348.htm (accessed April 24, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES