Patterns of host use by herbivore pests can have serious consequences for natural and managed ecosystems but are often poorly understood. Here, we provide the first quantification of large differential impacts of the southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann, on loblolly pine, Pinus taeda L., and longleaf pine, Pinus palustris P. Mill., and evaluate putative mechanisms for the disparity. Spatially extensive survey data from recent epidemics indicate that, per square kilometre, stands of loblolly versus longleaf pine in four forests (380-1273 km2) sustained 3-18 times more local infestations and 3-116 times more tree mortality. Differences were not attributable to size or age structure of pine stands. Using pheromone-baited traps, we found no differences in the abundance of dispersing D. frontalis or its predator Thanasimus dubius Fabricius between loblolly and longleaf stands. Trapping triggered numerous attacks on trees, but the pine species did not differ in the probability of attack initiation or in the surface area of bark attacked by growing aggregations. We found no evidence for postaggregation mechanisms of discrimination or differential success on the two hosts, suggesting that early colonizers discriminate between host species before a pheromone plume is present. ?? 2007 NRC.
Additional publication details
Differential impacts of the southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis, on Pinus palustris and Pinus taeda