Interactions of predominant insects and diseases with climate change in Douglas-fir forests of western Oregon and Washington, U.S.A.

TitleInteractions of predominant insects and diseases with climate change in Douglas-fir forests of western Oregon and Washington, U.S.A.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAgne, MC
Secondary AuthorsBeedlow, PA
Tertiary AuthorsShaw, DC
Subsidiary AuthorsWoodruff, DR, E. Lee, H, Cline, SP, Comeleo, RL
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Start Page317
Keywordsclimate change and fire, disturbance, Douglas-fir, insects, pathogens, technical reports and journal articles

Forest disturbance regimes are beginning to show evidence of climate-mediated changes, such as increasing severity of droughts and insect outbreaks. We review the major insects and pathogens affecting the disturbance regime for coastal Douglas-fir forests in western Oregon and Washington State, USA, and ask how future climate changes may influence their role in disturbance ecology. Although the physiological constraints of light, temperature, and moisture largely control tree growth, episodic and chronic disturbances interacting with biological factors have substantial impacts on the structure and functioning of forest ecosystems in this region. Understanding insect and disease interactions is critical to predicting forest response to climate change and the consequences for ecosystem services, such as timber, clean water, fish and wildlife. We focused on future predictions for warmer wetter winters, hotter drier summers, and elevated atmospheric CO2 to hypothesize the response of Douglas-fir forests to the major insects and diseases influencing this forest type: Douglas-fir beetle, Swiss needle cast, black stain root disease, and laminated root rot. We hypothesize that (1) Douglas-fir beetle and black stain root disease could become more prevalent with increasing, fire, temperature stress, and moisture stress, (2) future impacts of Swiss needle cast are difficult to predict due to uncertainties in May-July leaf wetness, but warmer winters could contribute to intensification at higher elevations, and (3) laminated root rot will be influenced primarily by forest management, rather than climatic change. Furthermore, these biotic disturbance agents interact in complex ways that are poorly understood. Consequently, to inform management decisions, insect and disease influences on disturbance regimes must be characterized specifically by forest type and region in order to accurately capture these interactions in light of future climate-mediated changes.