Do insect outbreaks reduce the severity of subsequent forest fires?
This study found that insects generally reduced the severity of subsequent wildfires. Specific effects varied with insect type and timing, but both insects decreased the abundance of live vegetation susceptible to wildfire at multiple time lags. By dampening subsequent burn severity, native insects could buffer rather than exacerbate fire regime changes expected due to land use and climate change. In light of these findings, the researchers recommend a precautionary approach when designing and implementing forest management policies intended to reduce wildfire hazard and increase resilience to global change.