Colonization behaviors of mountain pine beetle on novel hosts: Implications for range expansion into northeastern North America
Scholarship of Discovery
As climates change, thermal limits may no longer constrain some native herbivores within their historical ranges. The mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, is a tree-killing bark beetle native to western North America that is currently expanding its range. Continued eastward expansion through the newly invaded and novel jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) trees of the Canadian boreal forest could result in exposure of several species of novel potential host pines common in northeastern North America to this oligophagous herbivore. Due to the tightly co-evolved relationship between mountain pine beetle and western pine hosts, in which the insect utilizes the defensive chemistry of the host to stimulate mass attacks, we hypothesized that lack of co-evolutionary association would affect the host attraction and acceptance behaviors of this insect among novel hosts, particularly those with little known historical association with an aggressive stem-infesting insect. We studied how beetle behavior differed among the various stages of colonization on newly cut logs of four novel potential pine host species; jack, red (P. resinosa Ait.), eastern white (P. strobus L.) and Scots (P. sylvestris L.) pines, as well as two historical hosts, ponderosa (P. ponderosa Dougl. ex. Laws. var. scopulorum Engelm.) and lodgepole (P. contorta Dougl. var. latifolia Engelm.) pines. Overall, we found that beetle colonization behaviors at each stage in the colonization process differ between pine hosts, likely due to differing chemical and physical bark traits. Pines without co-evolved constitutive defenses against mountain pine beetle exhibited reduced amounts of defensive monoterpenoid chemicals; however, such patterns also reduced beetle attraction and colonization. Neither chemical nor physical defenses fully defended trees against the various stages of host procurement that can result in tree colonization and death.
Rosenberger DW, Venette RC, Maddox MP, Aukema BH (2017) Colonization behaviors of mountain pine beetle on novel hosts: Implications for range expansion into northeastern North America. PLoS ONE12(5): e0176269. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176269