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The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy: competitors add to predator load of a tree-killing bark beetle

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1 The mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae is a major tree-killing bark beetle in North America. We evaluated how the subsequent arrival of a competing bark beetle Ips pini influences the arrival of predators and their impact on both species.

2 The predators Temnochila chlorodia and Enoclerus sphegeus were strongly attracted to pheromones of D. ponderosae. By contrast, Enoclerus lecontei was mostly attracted to I. pini pheromones. The host compound myrcene synergized attraction of both D. ponderosae and E. sphegeus to the pheromone of D. ponderosae. However, it inhibited attraction of both I. pini and E. lecontei to I. pini’s pheromone.

3 Dendroctonus ponderosae were more attracted to trees than logs treated with its pheromones, whereas I. pini were more attracted to logs than trees treated with its pheromones. Some 78% of T. chlorodia were captured at hosts baited with D. ponderosae pheromones, whereas 83% of E. lecontei were captured at hosts baited with I. pini pheromones. We characterized the sequence of arrival to live trees baited with pheromones of D. ponderosae as: D. ponderosae, T. chlorodia, E. sphegeus, I. pini, E. lecontei.

4 Various combinations of I. pini and predators were added to logs colonized by D. ponderosae in the above sequence of arrival observed in live trees baited with D. ponderosae aggregation pheromones. Ips pini reduced D. ponderosae adult brood production. However, the combination of I. pini and E. lecontei did not raise D. ponderosae brood production above that observed with only I. pini present. Similarly, the combination of I. pini and T. chlorodia did not reduce D. ponderosae brood production below that observed with I. pini alone. By contrast, the combination of I. pini, T. chlorodia and E. lecontei caused more brood loss to D. ponderosae than I. pini alone.

5 Enoclerus lecontei did not reduce brood production by T. chlorodia, whereas T. chlorodia substantially reduced brood production by E. lecontei.

6 Secondary bark beetles that exploit the resource created by primary tree-killing species exert negative effects through both competition and increased predator load. Implications to the population dynamics, ecology and evolution of tree-killing bark beetles are discussed.

Keywords: Kairomones; mountain pine beetle; pine engraver; population dynamics; tritrophic interactions

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Science, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, U.S.A.

Publication date: November 1, 2008


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