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Interactions between green spruce aphid (Elatobium abietinum (Walker)) and Norway and Sitka spruce under high and low nutrient conditions

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1 Green spruce aphid (Elatobium abietinum) is a serious pest of spruce (Picea spp.) in north-west Europe, causing defoliation of one-year-old and older needles.

2 Relationships between population development of E. abietinum, needle loss and tree growth were compared for five pure genotypes of Sitka spruce and mixed-genotype material of Sitka and Norway spruce, grown under high and low nutrient conditions.

3 Despite wide differences in flushing date between spruce genotypes, E. abietinum populations peaked on the same date on each genotype and on the mixed-genotype material, irrespective of nutrient supply.

4 Larger aphid populations developed on trees grown under high nutrient conditions than under low nutrients. However, more needles were lost per aphid in the low nutrient treatment and overall defoliation rates in the two nutrient treatments were similar.

5 Total aphid numbers differed significantly between Sitka spruce genotypes within nutrient treatments, but not in relation to bud-burst or needle terpene content. Reductions in height growth caused by infestation were greater (15–44%), and related to mean aphid densities and defoliation, in the low nutrient treatment, but were smaller (11–27%) and not related to aphid density and defoliation in the high nutrient treatment.

6 Development of E. abietinum populations was similar on Norway and Sitka spruce, but Norway spruce lost fewer needles. However, the effects of infestation on tree growth were more closely related to aphid density and were similar for Norway and Sitka spruce.

7 Infestation caused a decrease in total root dry weight of Norway and Sitka spruce in proportion to the reductions observed in above-ground growth.

Keywords: Defoliation; Elatobium abietinum; Norway spruce; Sitka spruce; fertiliser treatment; growth loss; resistance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Entomology Branch, Forestry Commission Research Agency, Alice Holt Lodge, Wrecclesham, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LH, U.K.

Publication date: 2001-11-01

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