Variation in wood anatomical structure of Douglas-fir defoliated by the western spruce budworm: a case study in the coastal-transitional zone of British Columbia, Canada
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- Axelson, J.N., Bast, A., Alfaro, R. et al. Trees (2014) 28: 1837. doi:10.1007/s00468-014-1091-1
An outbreak of the western spruce budworm temporarily modifies cellular wood anatomy of stem wood in natural and mature Douglas-fir stands impacting wood quality properties.
Western spruce budworm (Choristoneura occidentalis Freeman) is a widespread and destructive defoliator of commercially important coniferous forests in western North America. In British Columbia, Canada, Douglas-fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] is the most important and widely distributed host. Permanent sample plots were established at a number of locations in southern interior at the beginning of a severe western spruce budworm outbreak in the 1970s. Two of the sites were sampled in 2012 to determine whether modifications had occurred in the anatomical characteristics of stem wood formed during outbreak years. We determined that rings formed during the western spruce budworm 1976–1980 outbreak had a significantly lower proportion of latewood, reduced mean cell wall thickness and smaller radial cell diameters. While the cellular characteristics of the earlywood remained fairly constant, significant reductions in lumen area occurred in 1978 and 1979 at each site. Our study shows that western spruce budworm outbreaks not only reduce annual radial growth, but also temporarily modify cellular characteristics in latewood cells, which has implications for wood density and quality in Douglas-fir.