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Bees Winners in Mega Fire Forest Succession Debacle

Bees Winners in Mega Fire Forest Succession Debacle

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 04 April 2019





Oregonian Bee
Triepeolus on Canada thistle, Jim Rivers, OSU.
Triepeolus on Canada thistle, Jim Rivers, OSU


Bees Winners in Mega Fire Forest Succession Debacle

Wild bees flock to forested areas affected by severe fire,
Oregon State University, April 3, 2019.


“...wildfire severity is a strong predictor of bee diversity in mixed-conifer forest.”

“...trapping bees at 43 sites in forests burned by the 2013 Douglas Complex fire (info pdf) that scorched nearly 50,000 acres north of Grants Pass.”

“...collected bees with blue-vane traps, which attract the insects by reflecting ultraviolet light, and used satellite imagery to determine fire severity.”

Bees Love the Blues

“Twenty times more individuals and 11 times more species were captured in areas that experienced high fire severity relative to areas with the lowest fire severity.”

“...some of the high-severity sites had a completely open canopy.”

“There were many more flowering plants in the understory because the light limitation was gone.”

Surging Shrub Forestry
Seral Forests
“This research adds to the evidence that there is high biodiversity in early seral forests – the beginning stages of forest development – and moving forward, the amount and location of this habitat could have an impact on services like pollination in the landscape overall.”

Early Seral Forests, Wiki

Shrub Forest doing Well, old forests dying…
Pacific Northwest Forest 100 Year Plan in Trouble

One of A Bee’s Many Jobs
Post-Fire Cleanup Duty…
“We found that burn severity is really useful for predicting where the bee habitat will be after a fire. It makes sense that some organisms would have evolved to do well after severe burning in this fire-adapted landscape.”


Bottom Line

Forest Trajectory

It’s not unexpected that lots of bees are found in fire-ravaged forest zones, as bees would be expected to follow the forefront of flowering plant re-population into these fire-ravaged areas.
The bigger issue is the nature of the fire & reforestation cycle these bees are participating in. Is the forest succession that’s taking place in these vast burn zones a regeneration, a refreshment by fire, moving towards reestablishing these vast, rich mixed-conifer forests, or is the trend-line of the expanding series of vast, “megafires,” we, and the bees are experiencing, actually part of a climate-driven forest succession, by fire, that’s actually creating whole new ecosystems better adapted to our new climate, to replace our traditional forests, which no longer fit, nor are supported by, our new climate?

Big Moves
It is apparent the latter is transpiring, that we are watching a vast climate-driven forest succession across the whole West and Southwest United States.

New Post-Fire World
These vast fires are climate driven, driven and fed by the vast tree mortality triggered by the changing heat, rainfall, and seasonal patterns in the High Sierra, California, and the whole of the Southwestern United States. The chances appear high that post-fire re-forestation by the original mix of conifer species is no longer possible. What we are actually watching across all these vast burn zones is the business-end of a climate driven forest succession by fire. It’s likely that when stable, mature ecosystems finally emerge out of these burn zones, that our current climate (itself a moving target) will only support a completely different composition of plants and animals that are, and will be, better suited for these steadily warming and drying conditions that we’ve already experienced, let alone the continued warming we are experiencing as far into the future as science can see.

It looks like a permenant form of, “Early Seral Forests,” are capable of taking and holding the burn zones of the megafires, at least until our increasing heat squeezes them out, too.

Brave New Forests
In any case, it’s apparent that the composition of these new forests, if forests are even capable of emerging under our new, warmer climate, will certainly not include the rich mixed conifer forests that we have become accustomed to, that’ve been here since the end of the last ice age.



Tree News 2018, Tree Mortality Continues: The Drought "Gone but not Over?"

2019 Tree Mortality Report: Forest Succession Underway, Continuing Through 2018

Tree News, Dire Warning for California Plants: Half of You are Dead by 2100


Climate Trajectory

41% Sierra & Rocky Mountains Snow Pack Loss since ‘82

Sierra Snowpack Could Drop 79% by End of Century

High Sierra & Great Basin Transforming from Seasonal to Ephemeral Snow Pack


Southwest US, Too

Tree News, Widespread Pinyon Pine Mortality Throughout Much of the Southwestern U.S.

Climate Change News: Whole Southwest of US Undergoing Aridification

Observing the Decline of the Doomed Forests in the Southwestern US


Forest Succession: New Ecosystems Supplanting Burned Forests

TWO FACES of FOREST DEATH: Heat Causing Fires Preventing Forest Regeneration

Northwestern Forest Succession Underway Under Our Changing Climate


Grim Future for Forests

Climate Models Underestimating Scale of Change: Twice What Climate Models Predict?




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Tree News


April 2019 News of Man & Nature








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