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    Author(s): Daniel S. Ott; Christopher J. Fettig; A. Steven Munson; Justin B. Runyon; Darrell W. Ross
    Date: 2020
    Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 479: 118577
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (966.0 KB)


    Bark beetles are keystone species that can alter the structure and function of forested ecosystems, yet the mechanisms underlying host selection and successful colonization remain poorly understood for most species. Comparison of closely related tree species that vary in their susceptibility to bark beetles could provide insights into such mechanisms. Here, we compare physical and chemical characteristics of blue (Picea pungens Engelm.) and Engelmann (Picea engelmannii Parry ex Engelm.) spruce, species rarely (blue) and frequently (Engelmann) selected and colonized by the spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis Kirby) in the western U.S. At three sites (Utah, U.S.) where these species co-occur, 15 trees of each species were selected and traits important for bark beetle survival and population dynamics were measured and compared (bark and phloem thickness, resin flow, phloem and volatile chemistry, beetle landing and colonization success). There were significant differences in bark and phloem thickness and resin flow between species. Bark was thicker and phloem was thinner in blue spruce than Engelmann spruce whereas resin flow was highly variable but greater in blue spruce. Concentrations of within-phloem terpenes in blue spruce were more than double those for Engelmann spruce. Engelmann spruce foliage emitted greater concentrations of volatiles than blue spruce. Spruce beetles landed at higher rates on baited Engelmann spruce than baited blue spruce, and Engelmann spruce was more likely to be colonized. Collectively, these results suggest that blue spruce is a less suitable host for spruce beetle than Engelmann spruce due to a combination of factors including: thicker bark, thinner phloem, higher resin flow, lower concentrations of volatile terpenes, and higher concentrations of constitutive terpenes in phloem tissue, several which are known to be toxic to spruce beetles.

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    Ott, Daniel S.; Fettig, Christopher J.; Munson, A. Steven; Runyon, Justin B.; Ross, Darrell W. 2021. Physical and chemical characteristics of blue and Engelmann spruce relative to spruce beetle host selection and colonization. Forest Ecology and Management. 479: 118577.


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    Dendroctonus rufipennis, Bark beetles, Host selection, Tree defense, Terpenes, Picea engelmannii, Picea pungens

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