Risk rating for mountain pine beetle infestation of lodgepole pine forests over large areas with ordinal regression modelling

C. Robertson, M. A. Wulder, T. A. Nelson, J. C. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins is endemic to lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelmann, forests in western Canada. However, the current beetle epidemic in this area highlights the challenges faced by forest managers tasked with prioritizing stands for mitigation activities such as salvage harvesting and direct control methods. In western Canada, the operational risk rating system for mountain pine beetle is based on biological knowledge gained from a rich legacy of stand-scale field studies. Due to the large spatial (millions of hectares affected) and temporal (over 10 years) extents of the current epidemic, new research into large-area mountain pine beetle processes has revealed further insights into the landscape-scale characteristics of beetle infested forests. In this paper, we evaluated the potential for this new knowledge to augment an established system for rating the short-term risk of tree mortality in a stand due to mountain pine beetle. New variables explored for utility in risk rating include direct shortwave radiation, site index, diameter at breast height, the temporal trends in local beetle populations, Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification and beetle-host interaction variables. Proportional odds ordinal regression was used to develop a model for the Vanderhoof Forest District in west-central British Columbia. Prediction on independent data was assessed with the area under the receiver operator curve (AUC), indicating good discriminatory power (AUC = 0.84) for predicting levels of mountain pine beetle-caused pine mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-912
Number of pages13
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 20 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bark beetles
  • Dendroctonus ponderosae
  • Mountain pine beetle
  • Risk rating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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