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Do sexual pheromone traps provide biased information of the local gene pool in the pine processionary moth?

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1 Sexual pheromone traps are commonly used to monitor populations of the pine processionary moth, Thaumetopoea pityocampa, assuming that trapped males are representative of the breeding population.

2 For seven Italian populations, mitochondrial haplotypes (COI and COII) of adult males caught in traps were compared with those of larvae obtained from egg batches laid in the same year, to test whether the males trapped were representative of the local populations.

3 The distribution of haplotype frequencies revealed substantial homogeneity between adult males and larvae samples from the same population, except for Aosta Ruines Verrès, a population recently expanding in the south-western Alps. In this case, the results suggested that trapped males were recruited over a wider area than local moths because haplotype diversity was higher than that of larvae.

4 A further analysis of this population using nuclear markers (AFLP) confirmed that adults, collected in pheromone traps, were genetically different from the larvae emerging in the same stand.

5 In conclusion, the assumption that trapped males are representative of breeding populations was confirmed for core populations, but has not been verified for the recently established population of Aosta Ruines Verrès. This should encourage discussion with respect to the reliability of pheromone traps in monitoring programmes of the pest, especially at the range's edge.
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Keywords: Distribution range edge; genetic diversity; monitoring; pine processionary moth; sex pheromone trap

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Università di Padova, DAAPV-Entomologia, Via dell'Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, Italy, 2: Università di Padova, Dip. Biologia, Via G. Colombo 3, 35121 Padova, Italy and

Publication date: 01 May 2005

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