, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 383-388
Date: 01 Mar 2003

Effects of defoliation by horse chestnut leafminer (Cameraria ohridella) on reproduction in Aesculus hippocastanum

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Abstract

In large parts of Europe horse chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) suffer from severe defoliation by an alien invasive species, the specialist leaf mining moth Cameraria ohridella (Lepidoptera; Gracillariidae). Heavily infested trees have a drastically shortened period for photosynthesis. We quantified the effect of moth infestation on reproduction of horse chestnut trees in two different cities in central Europe, Bern and Munich. C. ohridella negatively affected seed and fruit weight of A. hippocastanum at both locations. In Munich, seed weight of heavily damaged trees was reduced by almost half. However, the number of seeds per fruit, the number of fruits per inflorescence, and the number of inflorescences per tree did not change due to herbivory. We conclude that C. ohridella mining affects seed quality but not seed quantity. The reduced seed weight may severely impair growth and survival of horse chestnut seedlings and thus may endanger the long-term persistence of A. hippocastanum in its endemic forests in south-east Europe.