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Intrinsic and extrinsic determinants of mountain pine beetle population growth

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1 Mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae populations have large, economically significant outbreaks. Density dependence and environmental variability are expected to have important effects on their dynamics. We analysed time series data from an outbreak in the 1930s to determine the relative importance of population density and environmental variability on local population growth rates.

2 Resource depletion occurred rapidly at the scale of 0.4 ha and population growth rates were strongly density dependent. Annual environmental changes did not have detectable effects on population growth rates, leading to the conclusion that intrinsic processes influenced local population density more than extrinsic factors during this outbreak.

3 Our calculated value of rmax (1.16) does not suggest intrinsically cyclic population dynamics. Our estimate of rmax and density dependence will be useful in developing applied models of mountain pine beetle outbreaks, and the subsequent evaluation of management strategies.

Keywords: Dendroctonus ponderosae; Pinus contorta; density dependence; environmental impact; maximum rate of population increase; resource depletion; spatial scale; weather effects

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-9563.2008.00408.x

Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive, North West, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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