Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

David Shively

Commitee Members

Philip Higuera, Jeremy Sage


wildfire, remote sensing, normalized burn ratio, mountain pine beetle, lodgepole pine, multiple disturbance


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Remote Sensing


Following numerous studies, a general consensus on burn severity in forests affected by bark beetle outbreaks has not yet been achieved. The purpose of this study is to characterize burn severities in forest stands affected by mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreaks, especially in relation to “time since outbreak”, vegetation cover, and topographic factors. This study focuses on wildfires that occurred in the northern Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana during the 2012 fire season within forested areas that had previously experienced prior MPB outbreaks. Remote sensing techniques were used to quantify and compare the burn severities of MPB-outbreak stands with those of unaffected lodgepole pine; the role of fire weather was not accounted for in this study. The results indicate time since outbreak and existing vegetation cover were more important influences on burn severity when compared to topographic factors. Initial expectations were that red stage stands would exhibit the highest burn severity. These findings indicate though that 5+ year time since outbreak forest stands experienced higher burn severities compared to unaffected stands and those that were more recently affected by MPB. Increased torching potential may be attributed to increased surface fuel loads from needle fall. Statistical modeling and spatial autocorrelation were not significant but should be considered by future researchers.



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