, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 11-22

Competition between Exotic and Native Insects for Seed Resources in Trees of a Mediterranean Forest Ecosystem

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The seeds of both cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani) and Cyprus cedar (Cedrus brevifolia) are attacked in their natural range by a specialised chalcid, Megastigmus schimitscheki. From 1995 to 1999, seeds were screened for insect damage in the main cedar plantations of southern France, as well as in the stands where cedar is mixed with firs (Abies spp.). X-rays were used to identify chalcid-infested seeds from which the insects were then reared. The surveys revealed the presence of M. schimitscheki in all the stands of Atlas cedar, Cedrus atlantica, planted at Mt Ventoux, southeastern France. The chalcid also infested seeds of an exotic fir, Abies pinsapo, planted in the same area. However, it has not yet reached the cedar plantations in southwestern France, where the seeds are colonised by a related exotic insect, Megastigmus pinsapinis, originating from North Africa. The latter species was common in cedar seeds at Mt Ventoux in the early 1990s but seems to have been supplanted by M. schimitscheki in the invasion zone. A native chalcid species, Megastigmus suspectus, was also shown to have shifted to a slight extent from a native fir, A. alba, onto cedar. The presence of three chalcid species competing for cedar seed resources may result in a substantial decline of the regeneration potential of that tree species. At Mt Ventoux, up to 92.6% of the cedar seeds were attacked, with 86.8% due to M. schimitscheki. The survey also revealed the widespread presence of another North American chalcid, Megastigmus rafni, in the fir stands of southern France.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.