Research Article: Quantifying dispersal of a non-aggressive saprophytic bark beetle

Date Published: April 13, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Nicolas Meurisse, Stephen Pawson, Raul Narciso Carvalho Guedes.


Long distance dispersal to locate suitable breeding sites is recognized as a key trait influencing the population dynamics and distribution of bark beetles and other saprophytic insects. While dispersal behavior has been studied for a range of aggressive ‘tree killing’ bark beetles, few have considered the dispersal behaviour of non-aggressive saprophytic bark beetles that utilize kairomones (host volatiles). We present the results of a mark-recapture experiment that examined adult dispersal patterns of the saprophytic bark beetle Hylurgus ligniperda. Releases took place in summer and autumn 2014, in a clearcut pine forest in the central North Island, New Zealand. Both flight-experienced and flight-naïve adults were marked and released in the center of a circular trap grid that extended to 960 m with 170 or 200 panel traps baited with a kairomone blend of alpha-pinene and ethanol. Of the 18,464 released H. ligniperda, 9,209 (49.9%) of the beetles flew, and 96 (1.04%) of the beetles that flew were recaptured. Individuals were recaptured at all distances. The recapture of flight-experienced beetles declined with dispersal distance, and a diffusion model showed heterogeneous dispersal tendencies within the population. Our best model estimated that 46% of flight-experienced beetles disperse > 1 km, and 1.6% > 5 km. Conversely, no declining pattern was shown in the recapture of flight-naïve beetles, suggesting that emerging H. ligniperda may require a period of flight to initiate chemotropic orientation behavior and subsequent attraction to traps. We discuss the implications of these findings for the management of phytosanitary risks. For instance, combining landscape knowledge of source populations with dispersal processes facilitates estimation of pest pressure at economically sensitive areas such as harvest and timber storage sites. Quantitative dispersal estimates also inform pest risk assessments by predicting spread rates for H. ligniperda that has proven establishment capabilities in other countries.

Partial Text

Dispersal is the movement of individuals from their parent source to another location where they may subsequently establish and reproduce [1]. It is a key driver in the temporal persistence and spatial structuring of populations and influences population and ecosystem dynamics, species invasion processes and range shifting (including adaptation to climate change and habitat fragmentation) [1–3].




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