Facilitation in bark beetles: endemic mountain pine beetle gets a helping hand
Abstract:• Endemic populations of the bark beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae attack weakened lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) trees that are often previously infested by other bark beetle species, such as Pseudips mexicanus.
• The effect of interactions on D. ponderosae was assessed by examining host selection and productivity of D. ponderosae in trees containing P. mexicanus and trees infested solely by D. ponderosae.
• The findings obtained show that D. ponderosae attacked hosts previously occupied by P. mexicanus at greater densities, and offspring emerged earlier compared with hosts infested by D. ponderosae alone. Additionally, D. ponderosae larvae in P. mexicanus-infested trees were found to require a significantly lower amount of resource to complete development with no loss in size.
• The presence of P. mexicanus may affect host condition, improving the subcortical environment for endemic D. ponderosae, ultimately aiding in population maintenance at low levels. Hosts in this state should be preferentially attacked by D. ponderosae.