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Oviposition and mining by Phytobia betulae (Diptera: Agromyzidae) in genotypes of European white birch (Betula pendula)

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1  The colonization success of herbivorous insects depends partly on the ability of females to choose suitable host plants. Phytobia betulae Kangas (Diptera: Agromyzidae), a miner of differentiating xylem, infests birch (Betula pendula Roth and Betula pubescens Ehrh.) trees.

2  In a field experiment we measured successful ovipositions in the long shoots of eight 5-year-old-birch genotypes. Later in the growing season, in the same experiment, we counted the number of larvae from the same birch genotypes (different replicates).

3  We attempted to determine where Phytobia females lay their eggs in the birch canopy, what kind of shoots Phytobia utilize, whether birch genotypes differ in their susceptibility to Phytobia, and which tree characteristics correlate with successful utilization of birch for oviposition and larval development.

4  The ovipositions were concentrated in fast growing shoots and only 5% of the available shoots were utilized. Usually a shoot contained only one oviposition (80% of the cases). However, oviposition pattern resulted in significant aggregations (two to four ovipositions per shoot): 11% of shoots selected for oviposition contained more than one Phytobia and 22% of larvae shared their shoot with at least one other larva. Although birch shoots were much more abundant than Phytobia, there may be intraspecific competition for host resources among Phytobia.

5  Birch genotypes differed in the number of ovipositions but not in the number of larvae, although in general the number of larvae was correlated positively with the number of ovipositions. There were more ovipositions in the faster growing genotypes.

Keywords: Clone; growth; insect–plant interaction; intraspecific competition; shoot; susceptibility

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Punkaharju Research Station, Finnish Forest Research Institute, Finlandiantie 18, FIN-58450 Punkaharju, Finland 2: Department of Biology, University of Joensuu, PO Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland

Publication date: February 1, 2002


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