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Hide and seek in forests: colonization by the pine processionary moth is impeded by the presence of nonhost trees

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The disruption of host‐finding cues has been proposed as a key mechanism underlying the lower damage caused by phytophagous insects in mixed forests. We tested this hypothesis by investigating the distribution of pine processionary moth Thaumetopoea pityocampa (Denis & Schiffer‐Müller) (Lepidoptera) infestation at the edges of pure stands of Pinus pinaster (AÏton) at some distance from nonhost trees (Experiment 1) or bordered in part by a broadleaved hedgerow (Experiment 2).

An ‘edge effect' was demonstrated, with trees at the edge of the stand being more heavily infested than those at the interior of the stand.

The presence of a nonhost broadleaved hedgerow in front of the edge of the pine stand resulted in lower T. pityocampa infestation. There were significantly fewer T. pityocampa nests behind the hedgerow than on the exposed part of the edge. The presence of the hedgerow did not dilute or repel T. pityocampa infestation further into the pine stand, although it decreased the infestation of T. pityocampa throughout the pine stand. The decrease in T. pityocampa infestation behind the hedgerow was greater when the broadleaved hedgerow was taller than the pine trees.

These results highlight the benefits of using nonhost tree species on the edge of monospecific forest stands to reduce insect damage. This approach could be promoted as an innovative forest pest management method.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2012

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