Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

James Powell


James Powell


Barbara J. Bentz


Diane Alston


Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae, Hopkins) is a major disturbance agent in pine ecosystems of western North America. Adaptation to local climates has resulted in primarily univoltine (one generation per year) generation timing across a thermally diverse latitudinal gradient. We hypothesized that this pattern in total development time is shaped by selection for slower developmental rates, altered developmental thresholds, or oviposition rates in southern populations inhabiting warmer climates. To investigate traits responsible for latitudinal differences we measured lifestage-specific development of southern mountain pine beetle eggs, larvae and pupae across a range of temperatures. We also describe and model oviposition of southern US MPB. Using a novel technique that included frequent X-ray imaging, oviposition rate and fecundity were estimated separately and shown to both be significant and independent sources of variation. When compared with previously collected data for a northern MPB population, total oviposition time predicted for southern MPB at a constant 20°C was slightly longer than that of northern MPB, but the delay was too small to account for significant differences between the populations in total development time.

Developmental rate curves for eggs, larvae, and pupae were fit using maximum posterior likelihood estimation with a Bayesian prior to improve fit stability. When compared to previously published data for a northern population (Régnière et al. 2012), observed developmental rates of the southern and northern populations were similar across all studied lifestages at 20 and 25°C, although southern individuals were generally faster at temperature extremes (10 and 27°C). These findings were inconsistent with our hypothesis that southern individuals would have consistently slower rates. Optimal development of southern individuals occurred at higher temperatures, with higher development thresholds, as compared with northern individuals. Our results suggest that evolved traits in the remaining unstudied lifestage, teneral (i.e., pre-emergent) adult, likely influence latitudinal differences in mountain pine beetle generation time.



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