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Variable host phenology does not pose a barrier to invasive weevils in a northern hardwood forest

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A suite of invasive weevils has established in hardwood forests of the North American Great Lakes Region. We quantified patterns of host availability and the capacity of adults to succeed in a system with high host variability both within and between seasons in Michigan, U.S.A.

We quantified phenological development of foliage on three host species [sugar maple, Acer saccharum Marshall; ironwood, Ostrya virginiana (Mill.) K. Koch; and raspberry, Rubus spp.]. We estimated adult abundance using emergence traps and sweep net sampling over 3 years, and compared field host associations with laboratory choice assays.

Host plant phenology varied among species, between years, and in their interactions. The four most common weevils, Phyllobius oblongus (L.), Polydrusus sericeus (Schaller), Barypeithes pellucidus (Boheman) and Sciaphilus asperatus (Bonsdorff), emerged in early to mid‐June, in approximately that order. After emergence, each species showed evidence of host preference based on their abundances on foliage. Overall, P. oblongus and B. pellucidus were most prevalent on sugar maple, P. sericeus was most prevalent on ironwood, and S. asperatus was relatively evenly distributed. Laboratory choice tests with P. oblongus and P. sericeus confirmed these preferences.

These four invasive species comprised over 99% of all 12 845 weevils obtained, suggesting displacement of native species. The optimal sampling methods varied among weevil species.

These invasive weevils contend with the highly variable conditions of their environment, and also potential phenological asynchrony, via relatively late emergence, even at the cost of lower host quality. Annual variation is greater for numbers of adults than larvae, suggesting that mortality of late instars or pupae is particularly important.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-08-01

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