JOURNAL ARTICLE

Sapwood Stored Resources Decline in Whitebark and Lodgepole Pines Attacked by Mountain Pine Beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

Eleanor C Lahr, Anna Sala
Environmental Entomology 2016, 45 (6): 1463-1475
28028093
Recent outbreaks of forest insects have been directly linked to climate change-induced warming and drought, but effects of tree stored resources on insects have received less attention. We asked whether tree stored resources changed following mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) attack and whether they affected beetle development. We compared initial concentrations of stored resources in the sapwood of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelmann) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex. Louden) with resource concentrations one year later, in trees that were naturally attacked by beetles and trees that remained unattacked. Beetles did not select host trees based on sapwood resources-there were no consistent a priori differences between attacked versus unattacked trees-but concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC), lipids, and phosphorus declined in attacked trees, relative to initial concentrations and unattacked trees. Whitebark pine experienced greater resource declines than lodgepole pine; however, sapwood resources were not correlated with beetle success in either species. Experimental manipulation confirmed that the negative effect of beetles on sapwood and phloem NSC was not due to girdling. Instead, changes in sapwood resources were related to the percentage of sapwood with fungal blue-stain. Overall, mountain pine beetle attack affected sapwood resources, but sapwood resources did not contribute directly to beetle success; instead, sapwood resources may support colonization by beetle-vectored fungi that potentially accelerate tree mortality. Closer attention to stored resource dynamics will improve our understanding of the interaction between mountain pine beetles, fungi, and host trees, an issue that is relevant to our understanding of insect range expansion under climate change.

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