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Title Whitebark pine stand dynamics at Morrell Mountain, Montana.
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Abstract

We used dendroecological methods to assess disturbance history and population dynamics of whitebark pine and subalpine fir at Morrell Mountain, Lolo National Forest, Montana. Our goal was to test the hypothesis that subalpine fir is replacing whitebark pine due to the cumulative effects of white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle, and fire suppression during the 20th century. Live canopy dominant white bark pine, up to 567 years old, established between 1436 and 1620. Crossdated samples from snags indicated they died between 1776 and 2002. Blue-stain fungi in the sapwood of many trees showed that mountain pine beetle commonly contributed to tree death. The growth rates of (declining  versus (healthy  whitebark pines (with and without crown dieback, respectively) were not significantly different, although the basal area increment of decling trees decreased significantly during the 20th century, specifically between 1951 and 2000. Interactions between blister rust and moutnatin pine beetle warrant further investigation. Subalpine fire were 86 to 307 years of age suggesting that stand-level fires had not burned at the study site for at least 300 years. Precribed burning at this site may increase the chance of successful establishment of whitebark pine, but it may not restore the historical fire regime. We conclude that dendroecological research can provide important information about disturbance regimes and interactions among disturbance agents needed to successfully meet management and restoration goals. We provide several recommendations for future research of the dynamics of whitebark pine-subalpine fir forests.

Contributors Lori D. Daniels, Sarah M. Butler, Patsy P. Clinton, B. Ganesh, K. H. Hrinkevich, A. M. Kanoti, E. Keeling, S. R. Powell and J. H. Speer
Citation

Daniels, L.D., S.M. Butler, P.P. Clinton, B. Ganesh, K.H. Hrinkevich, A.M. Kanoti, E. Keeling, S.R. Powell, and J.H. Speer. 2006. Whitebark pine stand dynamics at Morrell Mountain, Montana. In Speer, J.H. (ed.), Experimental learning and exploratory research: the 13th annual North American dendroecological fieldweek (NADEF), Greenough, MT. Indiana State University Department of Geology and Anthropology. 23: 15-29.

File Date 2006
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