Mountain pine beetle and endemic population persistence in novel habitat


Stan Pokorny, PhD Candidate

Antonia Musso, PhD Candidate (University of Alberta)

Dr. Allan Carroll, PhD

Dr. Maya Evenden, PhD (University of Alberta)

Mountain Pine Beetle is Migrating

IN ITS NATIVE RANGE, landscape-scale mountain pine beetle outbreaks tend to be rare events that are contingent upon the coincidence of weather conditions conducive to beetle survival and contiguous areas of mature pine forests. Between outbreaks populations persist in the endemic phase, weakly regulated by a combination of competitive and facilitative interactions with cohabiting secondary bark beetle species. Given that the endemic phase is the beetle’s normative state, then long-term persistence in novel habitats will be dependent upon the availability of a vacant niche within which very low density populations can exist.

“Successful Mountain Pine Beetle expansion into the Boreal Forest is contingent on the establishment and persistence of endemic phase populations after the current epidemic has collapsed.”

– Stan Pokorny

Persistent Knowledge Gaps

THIS PROJECT SEEKS to determine the potential for long-term persistence and eruption by the mountain pine beetle in novel pine forests. Specifically, the objectives of this research are to (1) quantify the trophic interactions associated with endemic behaviour in recently invaded pine habitats, (2) determine the population density required to breach the endemic-epidemic threshold in lodgepole, lodgepole × jack hybrid, and jack pine forests, and (3) test the effect of population density on mountain pine beetle dispersal capacity.