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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Sustainable Pest Management Strategies for Arid-land Crops

Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol Research

Title: Ecological interactions of bark beetles with host trees

Author
item BYERS, JOHN

Submitted to: Psyche
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2012
Publication Date: October 26, 2012
Citation: Byers, J.A. 2012. Ecological interactions of bark beetles with host trees. Psyche. 2012:1-3.

Interpretive Summary: Certain species of bark beetles are important key species in forest ecosystems because these insects recycle dead trees and contribute to maintenance of healthy forest soils. However, the tree-killing and wood-boring bark and ambrosia beetles are also among the most damaging insects of forest products including lumber, paper, and ornamental and recreational trees. The pest status of these beetles has been elevated with the advance of global warming and moderate to severe area-wide droughts. The bark beetles kill trees that dry out and cause devastating fires because forest fuels have built up over many decades by unwise prevention of fires by man. The ecology and chemical ecology of bark beetles has been and still is an exciting area of research, particularly since bark beetles utilize a wide array of pheromones in communication and in interactions with trees. Bark beetle chemical ecology is intimately connected and intertwined with behavioral and physiological processes that are still largely unknown in many species. Development of more efficient pest management practices will require a much deeper understanding of the ecology of bark beetles facilitated by interdisciplinary observations and experiments on many levels. Potential topics for this special issue include beetle selection and finding of host trees, resistance by the tree to bark beetle attacks, avoidance of tree defenses by the beetles, insect and tree microbial associations, regulation of bark beetle colonization density, ecology of predators and parasitoids of bark beetles, communication, biosynthesis of pheromones, behavioral assays and antennal responses, pest population management, models of dispersal and insect trapping, and reviews. Many of these topics and others are covered in part in the 12 articles in the special issue on bark beetle ecology and interactions with host trees.

Technical Abstract: Certain species of bark beetles in the insect order Coleoptera, family Curculionidae (formerly Scolytidae) are keystone species in forest ecosystems. However, the tree-killing and woodboring bark and ambrosia beetles are also among the most damaging insects of forest products including lumber, paper, and ornamental/recreational trees. The pest status of these beetles has been elevated with the advance of global warming and moderate to severe area-wide droughts, exacerbated by miss-management and prevention of fires over decades. The ecology and chemical ecology of bark beetles has been and still is an exciting area of research, particularly since bark beetles utilize a wide array of semiochemicals in communication and in interactions with plants. Bark beetle chemical ecology is intimately connected and intertwined with behavioral and physiological processes that are still largely unknown in many species. Development of more efficient pest management practices will require a much deeper understanding of the ecology of bark beetles facilitated by interdisciplinary observations and experiments on many levels. Potential topics for this special issue include host-tree finding and selection, resistance by the tree, avoidance of tree defenses, insect/tree microbial associations, regulation of colonization density, ecology of predators and parasitoids, communication, biosynthesis of semiochemicals, behavioral assays and antennal responses, population management, models of dispersal and trapping, and reviews. Many of these topics and others are covered in part in the 12 articles in the special issue on bark beetle ecology and interactions with host trees.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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