Herbivory and climatic warming: a Mediterranean outbreaking caterpillar attacks a relict, boreal pine species
- Cite this article as:
- Hódar, J.A. & Zamora, R. Biodiversity and Conservation (2004) 13: 493. doi:10.1023/B:BIOC.0000009495.95589.a7
- 282 Downloads
Climate change can harm many species by disrupting existing interactions or by favouring new ones. This study analyses the foreseeable consequences of climatic warming in the distribution and dynamics of a Mediterranean pest that causes severe defoliation, the pine processionary caterpillar Thaumetopoea pityocampa, and the effects upon the relict Andalusian Scots pine Pinus sylvestris nevadensis in the Sierra Nevada mountains (southeastern Spain). We correlated a set of regional data of infestation by T. pityocampa upon Scots pine, from a broad ecological gradient, with climatic data for the period 1991–2001, characterized by alternating warm and cold winters. Defoliation intensity shows a significant association with previous warm winters, implying that climatic warming will intensify the interaction between the pest and the Scots pine. The homogeneous structure of the afforested pine woodlands favours the outbreak capacity of the newcomer, promoting this new interaction between a Mediterranean caterpillar pest and a boreal tree at its southern distribution limit.