Canadian Forest Service Publications

Could phenotypic plasticity limit an invasive species? Incomplete reversibility of mid-winter deacclimation in emerald ash borer. 2012. Sobek-Swant, S.; Crosthwaite, J.C.; Lyons, D.B.; Sinclair, B. J. Biological Invasions 14:115-125.

Year: 2011

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 32528

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1007/s10530-011-9988-8

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The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis, Coleoptera: Buprestidae) is a wood-boring invasive pest devastating North American ash (Fraxinus spp.). A. planipennis overwinters primarily as a freeze-avoiding prepupa within the outer xylem or inner bark of the host tree. The range of this species is expanding outward from its presumed introduction point in southwestern Michigan. We hypothesized that loss of cold tolerance in response to mid-winter warm spells could limit survival and northern distribution of A. planipennis. We determined whether winter-acclimatised A. planipennis prepupae reduced their cold tolerance in response to mid-winter warm periods, and whether this plasticity was reversible with subsequent cold exposure. Prepupae subjected to mid-winter warm spells of 10 and 15°C had increased supercooling points (SCPs) and thus reduced cold tolerance. This increase in SCP was accompanied by a rapid loss of haemolymph cryoprotectants and the loss of cold tolerance was not reversed when the prepupae were returned to −10°C. Exposure to temperatures fluctuating from 0 to 4°C did not reduce cold hardiness. Only extreme warming events for several days followed by extreme cold snaps may have lethal effects on overwintering A. planipennis populations. Thus, distribution in North America is likely to be limited by the presence of host trees rather than climatic factors, but we conclude that range extensions of invasive species could be halted if local climatic extremes induce unidirectional plastic responses.