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Ponderosa pine resin defenses and growth: Metrics matter

Posted date: April 21, 2016
Publication Year: 
2015
Authors: Hood, Sharon M.; Sala, Anna
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Tree Physiology. 35: 1223-1235.

Abstract

Bark beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) cause widespread tree mortality in coniferous forests worldwide. Constitutive and induced host defenses are important factors in an individual tree’s ability to survive an attack and in bottom-up regulation of bark beetle population dynamics, yet quantifying defense levels is often difficult. For example, in Pinus spp., resin flow is important for resistance to bark beetles but is extremely variable among individuals and within a season. While resin is produced and stored in resin ducts, the specific resin duct metrics that best correlate with resin flow remain unclear. The ability and timing of some pine species to produce induced resin is also not well understood. We investigated (i) the relationships between ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C. Lawson) resin flow and axial resin duct characteristics, tree growth and physiological variables, and (ii) if mechanical wounding induces ponderosa pine resin flow and resin ducts in the absence of bark beetles. Resin flow increased later in the growing season under moderate water stress and was highest in faster growing trees. The best predictors of resin flow were nonstandardized measures of resin ducts, resin duct size and total resin duct area, both of which increased with tree growth. However, while faster growing trees tended to produce more resin, models of resin flow using only tree growth were not statistically significant. Further, the standardized measures of resin ducts, density and duct area relative to xylem area, decreased with tree growth rate, indicating that slower growing trees invested more in resin duct defenses per unit area of radial growth, despite a tendency to produce less resin overall. We also found that mechanical wounding induced ponderosa pine defenses, but this response was slow. Resin flow increased after 28 days, and resin duct production did not increase until the following year. These slow induced responses may allow unsuccessfully attacked or wounded trees to resist future bark beetle attacks. Forest management that encourages healthy, vigorously growing trees will also favor larger resin ducts, thereby conferring increased constitutive resistance to bark beetle attacks.

Citation

Hood, Sharon; Sala, Anna. 2015. Ponderosa pine resin defenses and growth: Metrics matter. Tree Physiology. 35: 1223-1235.