Development of an aggressive bark beetle on novel hosts: Implications for outbreaks in an invaded range

Derek W. Rosenberger, Robert C. Venette, Brian H. Aukema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Some subcortical insects have devastating effects on native tree communities in new ranges, despite benign interactions with their historical hosts. Examples of how insects, aggressive in their native habitat might respond in novel host environs are less common. One aggressive tree-killing insect undergoing a dramatic range shift is the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins). Ongoing eastward expansion by the mountain pine beetle through the previously climatically unsuitable Canadian boreal forest may have large-scale impacts on north eastern North American pine forests. No systematic studies have been conducted on potential reproduction of mountain pine beetle on pines common to north eastern North America. We report reproduction of mountain pine beetle in logs of novel pine species (jack, Pinus banksiana Lamb; red, Pinus resinosa Ait.; eastern white, Pinus strobus L.; and Scots Pinus sylvestris L.) compared to the two most common pine hosts in its historical range (ponderosa, Pinus ponderosa Dougl. ex. Laws. var. scopulorum Engelm. and lodgepole Pinus contorta Dougl. var. latifolia Engelm.) in a two year study. Successful reproduction of mountain pine beetle occurred in all novel hosts, demonstrating that constitutive defences pose no barrier to further range expansion. Despite the number of progeny in novel hosts on par with that of historical hosts, a greater number of adult brood in novel hosts died prior to emergence. Brood mortality was correlated with the number of brood that developed to adulthood prior to winter, particularly in red pine. Brood developed more rapidly in novel vs. historical pine hosts and, the summer after a warm fall, exhibited less synchronized emergence in novel hosts. Synthesis and applications. Outbreaks by an aggressive bark beetle may be possible outside its historical host range, but constrained by an interaction between host and seasonality. Our results suggest that pines common to north eastern North America are suitable hosts for mountain pine beetle and highlight the value of monitoring efforts and response preparations as the insect moves eastward.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1526-1537
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (Appropriation: M.L.2014 Chpt. 226, Sec. 2 subd.4e.) and supported by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the US Department of Agriculture-Forest Service (USDA-FS), Northern Research Station. Kurt Allen and Chris Thomas of USDA-FS Rocky Mountain Region and Angie Ambourn of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture provided logistical support. We thank staff with the Clo?uet Forestry Center and USDA-FS for assistance in procuring pine material. We thank Wheaton College Science Station for hosting this research and research technicians Aubree Wilke, Colin Smith, Micah Edelblut, James-Scott Lock, Jim Walker, and Jonah Widmer. Comments from Barbara Bentz (USFS), JD堀rg TABLE 3  Effect of pine species on M (SE) larval headcapsule size (midwinter) and adult pronotal width (midwinter and emerged adults), 2013–2014 and 2014–2015. Means followed by the same letter within a column are not significantly different. n = 8 logs per species each year

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology © 2018 British Ecological Society


  • Dendroctonus ponderosae
  • bark beetle
  • development
  • insect
  • invasive species
  • mountain pine beetle
  • novel host
  • pine
  • range expansion
  • reproduction


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