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Physiological, ecological and environmental factors that predispose trees, stands and landscapes to infestation by tree-killing Dendroctonus beetles

  • Author / Creator
    Goodsman, Devin W.
  • In the last century the frequency and severity of outbreaks of tree-killing Dendroctonus beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) have increased. Small-scale drivers within trees likely drive outbreak dynamics across landscapes. At a small scale, variation in carbohydrate availability within the stems of lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) impacts the fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle (D. ponderosae Hopkins). I found that, during the growing season, carbohydrates were less available in the lower stems of pines than in their upper stems. After inoculation with a fungal symbiont of the mountain pine beetle however, trees mobilized carbohydrates to lesion fronts regardless of inoculation height along the stem. Interestingly, lesions that formed in response to fungal inoculation were larger in the lower portion of the stem than in the upper stem, likely due to due to lower initial concentrations of carbohydrates available to fund responses to fungal attack. I evaluated the consequences of common silvicultural treatments in stands attacked by bark beetles and found that small-scale interactions remained important in these systems. Fertilization reduced carbohydrate reserves in the roots of lodgepole pine trees by promoting tree growth. As trees use carbohydrate reserves to fund defensive responses, fertilized trees may therefore exhibit weakened defenses against bark beetle attack. In a separate experiment I found that fertilization increased beetle survival in bolts that overwintered in the Crowsnest Pass —an effect that was mediated by their fungal symbionts. In a landscape-scale analysis of a 30-year dataset, I found no evidence that defoliation by a lepidopteran (Choristoneura biennis Freeman) facilitates local spruce beetle (D. rufipennis Kirby) outbreaks in British Columbia. Thus, small-scale characteristics of bark beetle biology undoubtedly impact their populations whereas I was unable to confirm the importance of landscape-scale ecological interactions.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2013-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3G655
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Renewable Resources
  • Specialization
    • Forest Biology and Management
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Vic Lieffers and Nadir Erbilgin, Department of Renewable Resources
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Maya Evenden, Biological Sciences, U of A
    • Staffan Lindgren, Ecosystem Science and Management, UNBC
    • Simon Landhäusser, Renewable Resources, U of A
    • Victor J. Lieffers, Renewable Resources, U of A
    • Staffan Lindgren, Ecosystem Science and Management, UNBC, Maya Evenden, Biological Sciences, U of A, Simon Landhäusser, Renewable Resources, U of A, Nadir Erbilgin, Renewable Resources, U of A, Victor J. Lieffers, Renewable Resources, U of A
    • Nadir Erbilgin, Renewable Resources, U of A