Mountain pine beetle, phase II: protecting Minnesota
Brian Aukema, Entomology
The mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) has killed millions of acres of pine forest in the western U.S. and Canada. Although physical distance and cold temperatures have kept it outside of Minnesota, barriers are quickly breaking down as the timber trade expands and climate continues to warm. Dead beetles have already turned up in wood imported to the state. Mountain pine beetle now ranks as Minnesota's number one invasive insect threat.
This project will develop a monitoring system, based on pheromone-baited traps, to facilitate early detection of mountain pine beetle in the state. It will also explore whether the mountain pine beetle could have any native predators or competitors in Minnesota, and how strong Minnesota pines' defense response would be against infection. Together, this information will help scientists and managers build a plan of action for eradication.
- Can mountain pine beetle monitoring be improved with new pheromone-baited traps?
- Do competitor or predator insect species also respond to the presence of mountain pine beetle pheromone – providing another way to keep mountain pine beetle out of the state?
- How susceptible are Minnesota’s pine species to the mountain pine beetle, as measured by trees’ natural resistance to the disease-causing fungi spread by the insect?
This work will assess the risk of mountain pine beetle invasion in Minnesota by exploring different areas of susceptibility and resilience in our pine ecosystem– from trees’ natural defense mechanisms to possible predation by native insects. It will also help place Minnesota land managers ahead of the threat with tools for early detection and eradication.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Wheaton College Biological Field Station, US Forest Service, University of Alberta, Bethel University
Brian Aukema, principal investigator
Kevin Chase, post-doctoral researcher (2017-2018)
Zach Smith, Masters student
Kristine Jecha, research assistant
Elgin Lee, research assistant
Tenzin Dothar, research assistant
Mara Short, research assistant
News & Publications
- Colonization behaviors of mountain pine beetle on novel hosts: Implications for range expansion into northeastern North America (PLoS ONE, 2017)
- Cold tolerance of mountain pine beetle among novel eastern pines: A potential for trade-offs in an invaded range? (Forest Ecology and Management, 2017)