Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Mountain-pine beetle outbreaks and shifting social preferences for ecosystem services

Sims, Charles and Aadland, David and Finnoff, David (2011): Mountain-pine beetle outbreaks and shifting social preferences for ecosystem services.

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Abstract

Conventional wisdom appears to implicate climate change as the root cause of the unprecedented mountain pine beetle (MPB) outbreak currently underway in the western United States. While climate change is undoubtedly a factor, historic changes in public forest management have resulted in greater numbers of large-diameter host trees in MPB habitat. We present a model that integrates standard economic and ecological principles in an attempt to clarify the roles of climate change and public forest management in the current MPB outbreak. Using data on timber sales, climate change and MPB populations, model simulations illustrate how an increased emphasis on non-timber ecosystem services induced a regime shift from climate-independent to climate-dependent disturbance processes, amplifying the current MPB outbreak.

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