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Spatio-temporal dynamics of willow beetle (Phratora vulgatissima) in short-rotation coppice willows grown as monocultures or a genetically diverse mixture

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1 Phratora vulgatissima (Chrysomelidae) is the major pest of short-rotation coppice willows in the U.K., capable of causing severe defoliation in monoculture plantations. As this beetle shows feeding preferences between willow clones, knowledge of the spatio-temporal dynamics of P. vulgatissima is needed in order to assess the effects of mixed clonal plantings on the management of this pest.

2 Distribution patterns of adult P. vulgatissima were monitored over a season at a spatial scale of every tree or every other tree in single clone plantings (monocultures) of three willow clones and in a regular row mixture of these clones.

3 Distribution indices (deviation from Complete Spatial Randomness) demonstrated that P. vulgatissima adults were spatially aggregated on favourable clones in the monocultures and the mixture. The degree of aggregation (measured by the k-parameter of the negative binomial) differed between willow clones. Beetles were highly aggregated at the start of the season, but less so later.

4 Dispersal studies of P. vulgatissima adults over time showed a pattern of beetle infestation along rows of the preferred clones in a regularly structured mixture. In the monocultures, movement was less directional.

5 Plantation design offers some potential for more effective non-chemical pest management for P. vulgatissima. Monitoring of the pest must take account of our findings that adults occur in mobile aggregations.

Keywords: Aggregation; Phratora; beetle; biodiversity; dispersal; genetic mixtures; short-rotation coppice; spatio-temporal; willow

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: IACR-Long Ashton Research Station, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bristol, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9AF, U.K.

Publication date: November 1, 1999

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