Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2014

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Thomas Veblen

Second Advisor

William Travis

Third Advisor

Rolf Norgaard


My thesis project investigates how spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonous rufipennis Kirby) outbreaks in southern Colorado’s coniferous forests are causing behavioral changes in the American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), and how this could affect red squirrel and neighboring avian populations. This research uncovers how spruce bark beetle outbreaks are increasing individual tree mortality within spruce-fir forests of southern Colorado, leading to a decline in overall forest stand health. By analyzing individual tree statuses within vegetation plots, and conducting point-counts for both American red squirrels and cavity-nesting bird species, this study indicates how increasing mortality rates in spruce-fir forests, due to beetle outbreak, are decreasing red squirrel populations, as well as altering cavity-nesting bird populations at varying scales.