Biological Invasions (2010) 12, 3795-3808

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Keirith A. Snyder, Shauna M. Uselman, Shauna M. Jones and Sara Duke (2010)
Ecophysiological responses of salt cedar (Tamarix spp. L.) to the northern tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda carinulata Desbrochers) in a controlled environment
Biological Invasions 12 (11), 3795-3808
Abstract: The northern tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda carinulata Desbrochers) was released in several western states as a biocontrol agent to suppress Tamarix spp. L. which has invaded riparian ecosystems; however, effects of beetle herbivory on Tamarix physiology are largely undocumented and may have ecosystem ramifications. Herbivory by this insect produces discoloration of leaves and premature leaf drop in these ecosystems, yet the cause of premature leaf drop and the effects of this leaf drop are still unknown. Insect herbivory may change leaf photosynthesis and respiration and may affect a plant's ability to regulate water loss and increase water stress. Premature leaf drop may affect plant tissue chemistry and belowground carbon allocation. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to understand how Tamarix responds physiologically to adult beetle and larvae herbivory and to determine the proximate cause of premature leaf drop. We hypothesized that plants experiencing beetle herbivory would have greater leaf and root respiration rates, greater photosynthesis, increased water stress, inefficient leaf nitrogen retranslocation, lower root biomass and lower total non-structural carbohydrates in roots. Insect herbivory reduced photosynthesis rates, minimally affected respiration rates, but significantly increased water loss during daytime and nighttime hours and this produced increased water stress. The proximate cause for premature leaf drop appears to be desiccation. Plants exposed to herbivory were inefficient in their retranslocation of nitrogen before premature leaf drop. Root biomass showed a decreasing trend in plants subjected to herbivory. Stress induced by herbivory may render these trees less competitive in future growing seasons.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
general biology - morphology - evolution

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Tamarix (weeds)
Diorhabda carinulata (weed bioagent) Tamarix (weeds)