Canadian Forest Service Publications

Saproxylic beetle (Coleoptera) diversity in subalpine whitebark pine and lodgepole pine (Pinaceae) trees killed by mountain pine beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). 2016. Esch, E.D.; Spence, J.R.; Langor, D.W. The Canadian Entomologist 148(5):556-568.

Year: 2016

Available from: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36658

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.4039/tce.2016.3

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Whitebark pine, Pinus albicaulis Engelmann (Pinaceae), a foundational species of North American subalpine ecosystems, is endangered across its range and continued decline is inevitable. Little is known about the invertebrate fauna associated with this species which, if specific to whitebark pine, may also be threatened or endangered. We compared the composition of saproxylic beetle assemblages associated with whitebark pine and co-occurring lodgepole pine, Pinus contorta latifolia (Engelmann) Critchfield (Pinaceae), recently killed by mountain pine beetle (MPB), Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), in subalpine forests in Alberta, Canada. Redundancy and rarefaction analyses revealed that beetle assemblage composition was influenced by snag class (i.e., time since death) but differed little among the two pine species within snag classes. However, a subset of the assemblage known to be associated with the MPB differed significantly in composition between the two pines. No common species were exclusively associated with whitebark pines; however, seven species were rarely collected only on whitebark pine. With the possible exception of these rare species, felling and burning infested whitebark pines to control the MPB will not likely endanger saproxylic beetles associated with this tree.

Plain Language Summary

This research documented which beetles were found living in pine trees killed earlier by mountain pine beetle (MPB) in forests at high altitudes, just below the timberline. The main research question was, are there differences between the beetle communities in MPB-killed lodgepole pine and in the endangered whitebark pine? Beetles were trapped at four locations in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta where there were ongoing MPB infestations. Trees sampled had been killed by MPB in a time span from very recently to about five years earlier. We found that which beetles were found in the trees was significantly determined by time since death, but differed little between the two species of pine tree. No common beetle species were found exclusively on endangered whitebark pines. However, seven rarely collected species were found exclusively on whitebark pine. Felling and burning MPB-infested whitebark pines to control the MPB will not likely endanger beetles associated with this tree, except for possibly the rare beetles.

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