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Insect forest pest

Insect pest outbreaks are frequent and often have severe consequences for their host species, leading to large economic losses and changes in forest structure. This is particularly true for Swedish forests, which form an important resource for society and landowners. This project aims to characterise outbreak dynamics of the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) in Sweden, which cause high tree mortality at landscape scales.

Understanding dynamics leading to pest outbreaks of this species is urgently needed, but progress has been impeded by poor knowledge of its ecology and genomic composition of populations. This has made it difficult to provide management recommendations, such as delineating geographical boundaries for control to prevent future outbreaks. Moreover, little is known about pest outbreaks in the context of contemporary climate change and adaptation and whether threats exist to currently pest-free forests and other sensitive habitats.

However, we do know that climate change will increase the severity of pest outbreaks for two reasons, 1) more precipitation in autumn will result in more storm damage, due to less ground frost and increased soil water content, thereby providing more breeding material for bark beetles; and 2) higher mean temperature will allow faster development and earlier onset of beetle flight in spring, increasing the probability of a second swarming period during summer. Both factors will increase the risk of outbreak following storm damage.

Tree, damaged by European spruce bark beetles.
Tree, damaged by European spruce bark beetles.

In this project, we will try to use ecological and phenological measures of diapause patterns in combination with landscape genomic approaches to understand population connectivity and outbreak dynamics of the European spruce bark beetle in Swedish forests. We will combine genomic data with short- and long-term ecological and population dynamic data, which will include monitoring low and high density areas to prevent damage, and by testing the efficiency of pheromone traps using laser monitoring schemes. We will apply widely applicable theories and methods to our research that will be transferable to the wider scientific community and contribute towards management strategies for other insect pests across the globe.

Page Manager:

Centre for Animal Movement Research
Evolutionary Ecology, Department of Biology
Ecology building S-223 62 Lund Sweden