Does Drought Exacerbate Damage Caused by Bark-Beetle-Associated Fungi in Piñon-Juniper Woodland Ecosystems?
Drought-related bark beetle outbreaks have been considered responsible for tree mortality in piņon-juniper woodlands in the Southwest. Severe drought in the southwestern United States during the first few years of this decade, accompanied by outbreaks of the bark beetle Ips confusus and the fungus Ophiostoma, resulted in large-scale piņon die-off, with mortality in some regions of Arizona and New Mexico exceeding 90%. Blue stain fungi are tree pathogens that are vectored by bark beetles. These fungi and beetles in combination with other biotic and abiotic factors are the main causes of mortality. There is no current biocontrol technology for bark beetles or their symbiotic plant pathogens, and the current massive loss of this dominant keystone species in Piņon-Juniper woodlands may be irreversible. The objective of this study is to determine the extent to which fungal spores carried by bark beetles contribute to disease symptoms associated with bark beetle infestation caused death in piņon-juniper woodland trees. The uplands of the Middle Rio Grande Basin region are dominated by piņon-juniper woodlands. Perturbations to these woodlands have important consequences for the management of the region.
GSD Principal Investigators
|Ford, Paulette||Research Ecologist||505-724-3670|
Cooperators and Sponsors
Donald Natvig, Sevilleta LTER and University of New Mexico Department of Biology
Andrea Porras-Alfaro, Western Illinois University Depaartment of Biology
Joanna Redfern, Sevilleta LTER and University of New Mexico Department of Biology