Post-storm surveys reveal large-scale spatial patterns and influences of site factors, forest structure and diversity in endemic bark-beetle populations
The storm that struck France on december 26th and 28th 1999 felled 140 million m3 of timber and had a high economic, social and landscape impact. This event offered the opportunity to study large-scale patterns in populations of forest insect pests that would benefit from the abundant breeding material. A large-scale survey was carried out in France in 2000 to sample the most frequently observed species developing on spruce (Ips typographus, Pityogene schalcographus) and pine (Tomicus piniperda, Ips sexdentatus) in 898 locations distributed throughout wind-damaged areas. The local abundance of each species scored on a 0 to 5 scale was analysed using geostatistical estimators to explore the extent and intensity of spatial autocorrelation, and was related to site, stand, and neighbourhood landscape metrics of the forest cover (in particular the interconnection with broadleaf forest patches) found within dispersal distance. All species but I. sexdentatus, which was much less abundant, displayed large-scale spatial dependence and regional variations in abundance. Lower infestation levels per tree (windfalls and standing trees) were observed in stands with a high proportion of wind-damaged trees, which was interpreted as the result of beetles distributing themselves among the available breeding material. More infestations were observed in wind-broken trees as compared to wind-felled trees. More importantly, populations showed significant relationships with the structure of coniferous stands (in particular with the number of coniferous patches). T. piniperda population levels were negatively correlated to the amount of coniferous edge shared with broadleaf forest patches, possibly because of the disruptive effect of non-host volatiles on host-finding processes at the landscape-scale. The differences observed between species regarding patterns and relationships to site, stand, and forest cover characteristics are discussed in relation to the ecological characteristics of each species.