Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Forest Ecosystem Dynamics Lab Research

Quantifying the effects of silviculture treatments on forest resilience to spruce beetle epidemics in Colorado

Tree reaction to spruce beetle attack.

Project Description

This project sought out to use field observations, multi-temporal remote sensing methods and forest vegetation simulator modeling to investigate the effects of forest management practices on resilience to spruce beetle outbreaks in Colorado. Through this project, we began by assessing the recovery of forest dynamics following insect outbreaks for different (a) forest treatment levels, (b) time intervals between treatment and following disturbance, and (c) stands structures and compositions, which were identified using Landsat and MODIS imagery. From the information gathered from assessing the recovery of forest dynamics, we then assessed the spatial and temporal patters of recovery for different forested areas and developed a tool for land managers — ResilienceTracker. This tool allows land managers to more easily monitor the resilience of high-elevation Engelmann spruce forests to inform which forests may be the best targets for management.


Principal Investigators
  • Arjan Meddens (University of Idaho)
  • Seth Davis (Colorado State University)
  • Mike Battaglia (U.S. Forest Service)


This project was funded by the USDA Forest Service, Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC).


Papers (partly) sponsored by this project (see publications for active DOI links):

  • Janousek, W.M., Hicke, J.A., Meddens, A.J.H., & Dreitz, V.J. (2019). The effects of mountain pine beetle outbreaks on avian communities in lodgepole pine forests across the greater Rocky Mountain region. Forest Ecology and Management, 444, 374-381
  • Krawchuk, M.A., Meigs, G.W., Cartwright, J., Coop, J.D., Davis, R., Holz, A., Kolden, C., and Meddens, A.J.H. (2020). Disturbance refugia within mosaics of fire, drought, and insect outbreaks enable forest persistence in a changing climate. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.
  • Bright, B.C., Hudak, A.T, Egan, J.M., Jorgenson, C.L., Rex, F.E., Hicke, J.A., and Meddens, A.J.H. (2020). Using satellite imagery to evaluate bark-beetle-caused tree mortality from aerial surveys in a mixed conifer forest in northern Idaho, USA. Forests.
  • Bright, B.C., Hudak, A.T, Meddens, A.J.H., Egan, J.M., Jorgenson, C.L. (2020). Mapping multiple insect outbreaks across large regions using multitemporal Landsat data, Remote Sensing.
  • Hicke, J.A., Bingbing, X., and Meddens, A.J.H. (2020). Updating and harmonizing a time series of bark beetle-caused tree mortality in the western United States from aerial surveys. Forest Ecology and Management.
  • T.S. Davis, Meddens A.J.H., Stevens-Rumann C.S. Jansen V.J. and Battaglia M.A. (In revision). Tracking ecosystem change using objective functions: monitoring trajectories of ecosystem productivity following spruce beetle outbreak in treated and non-treated stands, Planned submission for Ecological Applications.

Google Earth Engine Tool for displaying the dNPPmax (resistance function) and aNPP (resilience function):