Oecologia (2006) 148, 720-728

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Deepa S. Pureswaran, Brian T. Sullivan and Matthew P. Ayres (2006)
Fitness consequences of pheromone production and host selection strategies in a tree-killing bark beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae)
Oecologia 148 (3), 720-728
Abstract: Timing of arrival at a resource often determines an individual's reproductive success. Tree-killing bark beetles can reproduce in healthy trees by attacking in adequate numbers to overcome host defences that could otherwise be lethal. This process is mediated by aggregation and antiaggregation pheromones. Beetles that arrive early in such a 'mass attack' must contend with undiminished tree defences, and produce enough pheromones to attract more beetles, but have a head start on gallery construction and egg-laying. Beetles that arrive late may be impeded by competition and diminishing availability of phloem, but should experience fewer costs associated with pheromone production and battling tree defences. We investigated relationships between timing of arrival, body size, pheromone production and fitness in the southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis. In field experiments, we captured beetles that arrived early (pioneers) and late on slash pine trees, Pinus elliottii, and measured pheromone amounts in their hindguts. We marked gallery entrances of beetles as they landed on a tree and measured their reproductive success after the attack terminated. We found no difference in body size or pheromone amounts between early and late arrivers. Most beetles arrived at the middle of the attack sequence, and excavated longer galleries per day than early arrivers. The number of offspring produced per day by beetles that established galleries midway through mass attack was higher than those that arrived early or very late in the sequence. Our results suggest that beetles do not exhibit adaptive phenotypic plasticity in pre-landing pheromone production, depending on the extent of previous colonisation of a host. Rather, it appears that stabilising selection favours beetles that attack in the middle of the sequence, and contributes to attack synchrony. Synchronous attack on trees is essential before population booms characteristic of tree-killing bark beetles can occur in nature.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Deepa S. Pureswaran, Brian T. Sullivan

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
pheromones/attractants/traps
resistance/tolerance/defence of host


Pest and/or beneficial records:

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


Dendroctonus frontalis Pine (Pinus)