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Factors Influencing Mountain Pine Beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) Dispersal by Flight and Subsequent Trade-off Between Beetle Flight and Reproduction Open Access


Other title
Mountain Pine Beetle
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wijerathna, Asha N
Supervisor and department
Evenden, Maya L (Biological Sciences)
Proctor, Heather C (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Tierney, Keith (Biological Sciences)
Luong, Lien (Biological Sciences)
Hall, Jocelyn (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae), has an obligatory dispersal phase before selection of a suitable host for brood production. Flight during the dispersal phase is affected by both beetle physiology and environmental factors. Mountain pine beetle utilizes energy obtained during larval development and adult feeding before emergence from the natal tree host to fuel flight. Energy expenditure on flight may have consequences for subsequent reproduction. Mountain pine beetles were flown on computer-linked flight mills to establish how beetles utilize energy during flight and to determine how environmental conditions affect flight capacity. Mountain pine beetles utilize both lipids and carbohydrates to fuel the flight. Neutral lipids are the major fuel for flight. Beetles held at lower temperatures were more likely to fly and flew for longer distances than beetles held at warmer temperatures. Beetles increase flight distance and duration with day length. Beetles fly against wind speeds of 0-2 m/s in a wind tunnel. The effect of flight on subsequent reproduction was tested by introducing beetles flown on flight mills and un-flown control beetles into bolts of either lodgepole, Pinus contorta Douglas. ex. Loud. var. latifolia), or jack, Pinus banksiana Dougl., pine to reproduce. There is a trade-off between flight and reproduction in the mountain pine beetle as control beetles that did not fly produced a significantly higher number of offspring than flown beetles. The pine host that offspring were reared in affected the number of offspring and their condition, as more offspring emerged from jack pine but higher quality offspring emerged from lodgepole pine. Offspring from flown parents have a slightly lower body condition compared to the offspring from control adults. The study reveals physiological and environmental factors that influence dispersal capacity of mountain pine beetle and a trade-off between flight and reproduction in mountain pine beetle.
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