Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: Response of endemic Mt. Graham red squirrels to catastrophic forest damage

John Koprowski, Marit I. Alanen, Ann M. Lynch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A consequence of isolation is increased susceptibility to catastrophe. Insect damage to fragmented and isolated forests has the potential to serve as a catastrophic force; such damage has increased worldwide due to climate change and fire suppression policies. We examined the response of endangered endemic Mt. Graham red squirrels to catastrophic insect damage due to moths, beetles, and introduced aphids. Insects changed the forest environment significantly for the endemic squirrel by reducing basal area and stem densities of live stems, while increasing number and basal area of standing dead stems. Availability of two major foods, fungi and tree seeds, declined in insect-damaged forests relative to trends in undamaged forests. Numbers of Mt. Graham red squirrels declined precipitously in insect-damaged forests suggesting a catastrophe. Conservation options are limited in such situations. Forest-insect induced catastrophes are likely to become more common in the near future as forest health declines due to past management tactics and climate change. Prudent conservation measures include the anticipation of insect outbreaks and effective forest treatments to decrease likelihood of such catastrophes to species of precarious conservation status, while avoiding abrupt changes to critical habitat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-498
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume126
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2005

Fingerprint

forest damage
squirrels
forest insects
insect
basal area
insects
stems
climate change
forest health
fire suppression
stem
damage
moths
Aphidoidea
Coleoptera
conservation status
fungi
aphid
moth
habitats

Keywords

  • Aphid
  • Arizona
  • Bark beetle
  • Catastrophe
  • Climate change
  • Forest health
  • Tamiasciurus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide : Response of endemic Mt. Graham red squirrels to catastrophic forest damage. / Koprowski, John; Alanen, Marit I.; Lynch, Ann M.

In: Biological Conservation, Vol. 126, No. 4, 12.2005, p. 491-498.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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