Modelling spatiotemporal dynamics of Pinus pinea cone infestation by Dioryctria mendacella uri icon


  • In the present study, we focus on the damage caused by a native pest, the Dioryctria mendacella Stgr. moth, to cones and seeds of P. pinea, a forest species showing a marked masting habit. We firstly identified those environmental and stand-level factors controlling the spatiotemporal pattern of damage by D. mendacella, as well as the self-regulatory effect that interannual variability in seed production could have on the population dynamics of the moth. In a second phase, we constructed a predictive phenomenological model to forecast the probability of cone damage in a given location, as well as the expected patterns of spatiotemporal spread and dispersion.
  • Insect predation on seeds of forests species during the predispersal phase is a special case of plant-pest interaction in which, while plant survival and growth is not threatened, natural regeneration can be negatively affected. In the case of seeds with a high economic value, as is the case of "nuts from the Mediterranean stone pine (Pinus pinea L), predispersal predation can also result in severe economic losses. The insect-seed relationship shows complex spatiotemporal dynamics, including patterns of dependency between fruit availability and fluctuations in insect population, occurrence of insect outbreaks, spatial contagion and masting habit.
  • Our results revealed a strong correlation between the probability of damage and crop size in a given year, pointing to a dependency between feeding resources and predator population. Additionally, the probability of damage is affected by the number of damaged cones observed in the previous year, indicating temporal contagion. Cone and seed damage is also affected by the temperature during different phases of the complex life-cycle of D. mendacella, which suggests that breakout processes are synchronized within the territory and linked to the occurrence of bumper crops and favorable climatic conditions. We detected that the level of infestation at a given location is related to site and environmental conditions, with no significant pattern of contagion/spreading from stands with high resource availability to those with low availability. Damage prediction under warmer climate scenarios reveals a counterbalance among favorable/unfavorable conditions for insect expansion and expected decline in cone production, resulting in only slight changes. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017