Modeling wildfire spread in mountain pine beetle-affected forest stands, British Columbia, Canada
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): D. D.B. Perrakis; R. A. Lanoville; S. W. Taylor; D. Hicks
Publication Year: 2014

Cataloging Information

  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • coniferous forests
  • Dendroctonus ponderosae
  • ecological restoration
  • fire management
  • fire suppression
  • fire suppression
  • forest health
  • forest management
  • insects
  • lodgepole pine
  • mountain pine beetle
  • pine bark beetle
  • Pinus contorta
  • plant diseases
  • rate of spread
  • rate of spread
  • remote sensing
  • remote sensing
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 53126
Tall Timbers Record Number: 30437
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins; MPB) has killed lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud.) across 20 million hectares of central British Columbia, Canada, since the late 1990s, challenging land managers as well as fire management personnel. Although recent studies have used models to simulate how MPB might affect fire spread, very little fire behaviour has been documented in MPB-affected stands. We documented rate of spread (ROS) in experimental fires and wildfires in recent MPB-killed stands in British Columbia using interpretations of oblique photographs, airborne measurements of wildfire spread, and experimental burns. Fire spread observations were used to develop ROS models following the empirical approach of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS). Sixteen fire runs were examined that occurred in mature MPB-affected pine stands from 1 to 5 years since peak attack. Observations of ROS were associated with corresponding weather measurements from nearby weather stations and non-linear regression curves were fit to paired ROS and Initial Spread Index (ISI) data according to CFFDRS convention. Although the dataset is less robust than a strictly experimental approach, fires had faster spread and more crown fire than predicted, with a linear average of 2.7 times higher ROS in best fit models than expected for unaffected pine. The most likely crown fire initiation threshold (P = 0.5) was ISI 5.5. Fire intensity is likely higher in early post-MPB stands due to increased ROS, lower crowning thresholds, and greater consumption of fine dead branches. Further studies on fire behaviour in MPB-affected stands are needed, but the present findings can help reduce uncertainty in fire and land management decisions in the interim.

Online Link(s):
Perrakis, D. D. B., R. A. Lanoville, S. W. Taylor, and D. Hicks. 2014. Modeling wildfire spread in mountain pine beetle-affected forest stands, British Columbia, Canada. Fire Ecology, v. 10, no. 2, p. 10-35. 10.1996/fireecology.1002010.