Beetle-kill zones surprisingly rich in biodiversity

Beetle-kill zones surprisingly rich in biodiversity

Stands of beetle-killed Engelmann spruce fill the mountain sides over Wolf Creek Pass. Researchers say these grim-looking swaths of dead spruce can support a surprising level of biodiversity, including birds, mammals and plants. Because of that, a 100-acre logging project near the pass will cull only about 50 percent of the dead trees. Below: A salvage-logging operation takes place in the Rio Grande National Forest.
Spruce beetles live and feed underneath the bark of the tree, where they lay eggs in a network of tunnels.
Since 1996, nearly 588,000 acres in the Rio Grande National Forest have been ravaged by spruce beetles. Clark University associate professor Dominik Kulakowski says a “snag forest” is a favorable habitat for many invertebrates and vertebrates because of the creation of canopy gaps and enhanced growth of understory plants.
Nearly 588,000 acres in the Rio Grande National Forest have been ravaged by spruce beetles since 1996. The San Juan National Forest will conduct a salvage-logging project like this one on 100 acres near Wolf Creek Pass. Only about 50 percent of the dead trees will be cleared from the area because these dead stands support a surprising level of biodiversity.
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Map of spruce beetle activity

Beetle-kill zones surprisingly rich in biodiversity

Stands of beetle-killed Engelmann spruce fill the mountain sides over Wolf Creek Pass. Researchers say these grim-looking swaths of dead spruce can support a surprising level of biodiversity, including birds, mammals and plants. Because of that, a 100-acre logging project near the pass will cull only about 50 percent of the dead trees. Below: A salvage-logging operation takes place in the Rio Grande National Forest.
Spruce beetles live and feed underneath the bark of the tree, where they lay eggs in a network of tunnels.
Since 1996, nearly 588,000 acres in the Rio Grande National Forest have been ravaged by spruce beetles. Clark University associate professor Dominik Kulakowski says a “snag forest” is a favorable habitat for many invertebrates and vertebrates because of the creation of canopy gaps and enhanced growth of understory plants.
Nearly 588,000 acres in the Rio Grande National Forest have been ravaged by spruce beetles since 1996. The San Juan National Forest will conduct a salvage-logging project like this one on 100 acres near Wolf Creek Pass. Only about 50 percent of the dead trees will be cleared from the area because these dead stands support a surprising level of biodiversity.
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