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Growth and nutritional response of Pinus pinaster after a large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) attack

AuthorsSampedro Pérez, Luis ; Moreira Tomé, Xoaquín ; Martíns, Patricia; Zas Arregui, Rafael
Forest pest
Nutrient allocation
Issue DateDec-2009
CitationTrees - Structure and Function, 23 (6): 1189-1197
AbstractHylobius abietis is an important pest of coniferous plantations in Europe, to which high mortality, stem deformities, and growth loss are typically attributed. In pine trees, as in other long-lived organisms, there is uncertainty regarding the long-term costs of short-term resistance against invading organisms. We examined the nutritional status of Pinus pinaster after a 2-year long H. abietis attack, measuring needle and phloem N and P concentrations, and the impact of the damage on subsequent growth, survival, and stem deformities over a period of 5 years. The study sites were a P. pinaster family × fertilization trial, and a neighbouring twin trial with similar climate and soil characteristics that was not attacked. Growth losses after the H. abietis attack were important (up to 40%), but restricted to the first years after the attack. Five years after the attack, the annual height increment of pines in the attacked stand was not related to the initial damage suffered, and plants showed regular stems, normal leader dominance, and regular height after 5 years. These findings suggest strong compensatory growth in P. pinaster and indicate relatively high tolerance to the large pine weevil. Needle nutrient concentrations in the healthy stand were, as expected, significantly greater in experimentally fertilized plants, and they were linearly related to those in phloem showing equilibrated stoichiometry both for nitrogen (r = 0.86; P < 0.01; N = 25) and phosphorus (r = 0.84; P < 0.01; N = 25). However, at the attacked stand, nutrient concentrations in the needles did not follow the experimentally manipulated nutrient availability in soils, and phosphorus concentration in the needles was unexpectedly not related to those in the phloem. The pine seedlings attacked by H. abietis showed altered potential of allocating nutrients to their tissues according to the nutrient availability existing in the soil, as well as altered stoichiometry in N and P concentrations among phloem and leaves. Maritime pine seems to be tolerant to the pine weevil attack, at least in the conditions of this study, where pine weevil damage caused a deep alteration of nutrient allocation and nutritional status. Further research is needed to elucidate to what extent altered nutrient allocation may be part of an induced response to the attack or just derived from the vascular injury caused by the weevil wounding in the phloem.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00468-009-0358-4
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