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Influence of Stem Diameter on the Survival and Growth of Containerized Norway Spruce Seedlings Attacked by Pine Weevils (Hylobius spp.)

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Pine weevils (Hylobius spp.) feeding on stem bark of young conifer seedlings pose a serious threat to forest regeneration-planting programmes in Nordic countries. This study was designed to determine the threshold diameter for planted, untreated containerized seedlings, above which pine weevils cause little or no damage. The effects of sublethal weevil damage on seedling growth were also assessed. In total, 5320 containerized spruce seedlings were planted on scarified and unscarified plots on three sites in southern Sweden. Seedlings in six size classes, which differed with regard to age (1.5-3.5 yrs) and cultivation density (28-446 seedlings m 2) were grown using the Combicell system. None of the seedlings was treated with insecticides, except for those in the smallest class, where both untreated and treated seedlings were used. Inspections were made periodically during the first 3 yrs and after both 5 and 7 yrs. A statistically significant relationship was found between seedling losses due to pine weevil attack and seedling stem-base diameter at the time of planting out, on both scarified and unscarified plots. For seedlings with a stem-base diameter of around 10 mm, mortality due to pine weevil attack on scarified plots was low enough to be considered negligible. This threshold diameter was several millimetres greater for seedlings planted on unscarified plots. An analysis of the relationship between the extent of weevil damage and seedling growth rate showed that among surviving seedlings, those that grew fast tended to show low levels of damage. On unscarified plots, the mortality rate amongst seedlings treated once with a permethrin insecticide was only one-third that of untreated seedlings. On scarified plots, the corresponding difference was somewhat smaller. Repeated insecticide treatment resulted in a pronounced reduction in seedling mortality on the unscarified plots, whereas the effect was weaker on scarified plots.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (SkogForsk), Science Park, SE-751 83 Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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