Date of Award:

12-2008

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Thomas C. Edwards, Jr.

Abstract

Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelmann) is a treeline species in the central Rocky Mountains. Its occupation of high elevations previously protected whitebark pine from long-term mountain pine beetle outbreaks. The mountain pine beetle, however, is currently reaching outbreaks of record magnitude in high-elevation whitebark pine. We used a factorial laboratory experiment to compare mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) life history characteristics between a typical host, lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Engelmann), and whitebark pine. We tested the effects of natal host and brood host on beetle fecundity, offspring size, and brood sex-ratio. We reared mountain pine beetles from whitebark pine and from lodgepole pine, and infested half of them into their natal host and half into the other host. Fecundity was greater overall in lodgepole pine brood hosts. Among lodgepole brood hosts, beetles from whitebark pine had greater fecundity. Fecundity was also significantly related to phloem thickness, which was greater in lodgepole pine. Offspring were larger from whitebark brood hosts than from lodgepole, regardless of their parents’ natal host. Finally, sex-ratio was closer to 1:1 in lodgepole than in whitebark brood hosts. We conclude that host species affects life history of mountain pine beetle with consequences for individual beetle fitness.

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Biology Commons

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