Effects of Elevation and Aspect on the Flight Activity of Two Alien Pine Bark Beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) in Recently-harvested Pine Forests

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Forest Ecology and Management

Publication Date




First Page


Last Page



Climate is an important driver of the establishment and impact of invasive alien species. Species transported to new regions can only invade those with a climate that meets their thermal requirements, but climate change is likely to alter the invasibility of recipient environments. Likewise, species are unlikely to reach pest status where climatic conditions are suboptimal. Here our objectives were to determine the relationship between climatic conditions and flight activity of two alien pine bark beetles (Hylastes ater and Hylurgus ligniperda) and to anticipate how climate change may affect the future distribution of these species. We used elevational gradients and slope aspect (north versus south-facing slopes), which are known to affect microclimates, to assess the effects on beetle flight across 18 locations in pine forests in the South Island, New Zealand. Using panel traps baited with alpha-pinene and ethanol we caught a total of 45,363 H. ligniperda and 6676 H. ater. Catches of both species decreased significantly and substantially with increasing elevation. Significantly more beetles were caught at north-facing than at south-facing sites towards the end of the flight season in autumn, leading to an extended flight period at northerly aspects. These results are important for pest management and the identification of ‘areas of low pest prevalence’ as a measure to reduce post-harvest infestations of logs destined for export. For example, during risk periods, logs could be harvested preferentially from stands with reduced flight activity (i.e., southerly aspects and higher elevations). Furthermore, such sites could be chosen to reduce post-harvest infestation risks during periods of temporary log storage at skid sites in the forest. Our findings are also important because climate change can be an important factor contributing to population expansion of bark beetles, and warmer temperatures could lead to increased flight activity and abundance, as well as enhanced suitability of sites that are currently less favourable.