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Forests 2018, 9(3), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9030137

Ecoregional Patterns of Spruce Budworm—Wildfire Interactions in Central Canada’s Forests

Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Sault Ste Marie, P6A 2E5 ON, Canada
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Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 6 March 2018 / Accepted: 13 March 2018 / Published: 14 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildland Fire, Forest Dynamics, and Their Interactions)
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Abstract

Wildfires and outbreaks of the spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.), are the two dominant natural disturbances in Canada’s boreal forest. While both disturbances have specific impacts on forest ecosystems, it is increasingly recognized that their interactions also have the potential for non-linear behavior and long-lasting legacies on forest ecosystems’ structures and functions. Previously, we showed that, in central Canada, fires occurred with a disproportionately higher frequency during a ‘window of opportunity’ following spruce budworm defoliation. In this study, we use Ontario’s spatial databases for large fires and spruce budworm defoliation to locate where these two disturbances likely interacted. Classification tree and Random Forest procedures were then applied to find how spruce budworm defoliation history, climate, and forest conditions best predict the location of such budworm–fire interactions. Results indicate that such interactions likely occurred in areas geographically bound by hardwood content in the south, the prevalence of the three major spruce budworm host species (balsam fir, white spruce and black spruce) in the north, and climate moisture in the west. The occurrence of a spruce budworm–fire interaction inside these boundaries is related to the frequency of spruce budworm defoliation. These patterns provide a means of distinguishing regions where spruce budworm attacks are likely to increase fire risk. View Full-Text
Keywords: spruce budworm defoliation; forest fire; disturbance interactions; forest composition; weather spruce budworm defoliation; forest fire; disturbance interactions; forest composition; weather
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Candau, J.-N.; Fleming, R.A.; Wang, X. Ecoregional Patterns of Spruce Budworm—Wildfire Interactions in Central Canada’s Forests. Forests 2018, 9, 137.

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