The preference-performance hypothesis states that ovipositing phytophagous insects will select host plants that are well-suited for their offspring and avoid host plants that do not support offspring performance (survival, development and fitness). The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), a native insect herbivore in western North America, can successfully attack and reproduce in most species of Pinus throughout its native range. However, mountain pine beetles avoid attacking Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva), despite recent climate-driven increases in mountain pine beetle populations at the high elevations where Great Basin bristlecone pine grows. Low preference for a potential host plant species may not persist if the plant supports favorable insect offspring performance, and Great Basin bristlecone pine suitability for mountain pine beetle offspring performance is unclear. We infested cut bolts of Great Basin bristlecone pine and two susceptible host tree species, limber (P. flexilis) and lodgepole (P. contorta) pines with adult mountain pine beetles and compared offspring performance. To investigate the potential for host adaptation in offspring performance, we tested mountain pine beetles from populations within and outside of Great Basin bristlecone pine range. Although mountain pine beetles laid viable eggs in all three tree species, extremely few offspring emerged from Great Basin bristlecone pine, regardless of the beetle population. Our observed low offspring performance in Great Basin bristlecone pine corresponds with previously documented low mountain pine beetle attack preference. A low preference-low performance relationship suggests that Great Basin bristlecone pine resistance to mountain pine beetle is likely to be retained through climate-driven high-elevation mountain pine beetle outbreaks.

Author ORCID Identifier

Barbara J Bentz

Erika L. Eidson



Document Type




File Format

.csv, .txt

Publication Date



USDA, Forest Service (FS);

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)


Utah State University

Award Number

USDA, Forest Service (FS) WC-EM-F-14-1; USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) UTAE-2010-03313


See README file.

Referenced by

Eidson, E. L., Mock, K. E., & Bentz, B. J. (2018). Low offspring survival in mountain pine beetle infesting the resistant Great Basin bristlecone pine supports the preference-performance hypothesis. PLOS ONE, 13(5), e0196732.

Eidson, E. L. (2017). Great Basin Bristlecone Pine Resistance to Mountain Pine Beetle: An Evaluation of Dendroctonus ponderosae Host Selection Behavior and Reproductive Success in Pinus longaeva. M.S. Thesis. Utah State University.

Start Date


End Date



Site: The site from which the host tree was cut. ìCaveMtnî = Cave Mountain, Nevada; ìDixieNFî = Dixie National Forest, Utah; ìLoganCanyonî = Logan Canyon, Utah.



Code Lists

Bristlecone = Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva)

CVB = Cave Mountain Bristlecone

CVL = Cave Mountain Limber

DXB = Dixie Bristlecone

DXL = Dixie Limber

F = female

ID = identification

LCL = Logan Canyon Lodgepole

Limber = limber pine (Pinus flexilis)

Lodgepole = lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)

M = male MPB = mountain pine beetle

NV = Nevada Spp = species

UT = Utah

For more details, see README file.


Zip file contains all files that are listed individually.


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Entomology | Population Biology


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



Additional Files

Alldata_README.txt (21 kB)
MD5: 61aa8f89b769575b2a2349f2d60368ab

Digital Commons (39 kB)
MD5: 6864840f0ce61bcca9fa394aa992d408

Mating_and_Fecundity.csv (7 kB)
MD5: c194bd557e5fe8880a1f8462851eafb9

Offpsring_Emergence.csv (605 kB)
MD5: 1a1e59c27d4323109a7ff85f3d7e0d23

Offspring_Emergence_Galleries.csv (25 kB)
MD5: fcba2e9f60da6ce7b768e49f34a058f1

Offspring_Emergence_per_Bolt.csv (1 kB)
MD5: 5b3cff2baa30794db3b966bedc1742cb

Parent_Beetle_Size.csv (34 kB)
MD5: 064f3b387fe3f75de68874773be6f923

Phloem_Thickness.csv (1 kB)
MD5: 3e06e8b9aad7100cb2b79a8a04c7165c