The impacts on forests of tree-killing bark beetles can depend on the species composition of potential host trees. Host susceptibility might be an intrinsic property of tree species, or it might depend on spatial patterning of alternative host species. We compared the susceptibility of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) and Virginia pine (P. virginiana) to southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) at two hierarchical levels of geographic scale: within beetle infestations in heterospecific stands (extent ranging from 0.28 to 0.65 ha), and across a forest landscape (extent 72,500 ha) that was dominated by monospecific stands. In the former, beetles preferentially attacked Virginia pine (tree mortality = 65-100% in Virginia pine versus 0-66% in loblolly pine), but in the latter, loblolly stands were more susceptible than Virginia stands. This hierarchical transition in host susceptibility was predicted from knowledge of (1) a behavioral preference of beetles for attacking loblolly versus Virginia pine, (2) a negative correlation between preference and performance, and (3) a mismatch in the domain of scale between demographics and host selection by individuals. There is value for forest management in understanding the processes that can produce hierarchical transitions in ecological patterns. Copyright ?? 2005 by the Society of American Foresters.
Additional publication details
Mismatch between herbivore behavior and demographics contributes to scale-dependence of host susceptibility in two pine species