, Volume 164, Issue 3, pp 601–609 | Cite as

Importance of resin ducts in reducing ponderosa pine mortality from bark beetle attack

  • Jeffrey M. Kane
  • Thomas E. Kolb
Physiological ecology - Original Paper


The relative importance of growth and defense to tree mortality during drought and bark beetle attacks is poorly understood. We addressed this issue by comparing growth and defense characteristics between 25 pairs of ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) trees that survived and trees that died from drought-associated bark beetle attacks in forests of northern Arizona, USA. The three major findings of our research were: (1) xylem resin ducts in live trees were >10% larger (diameter), >25% denser (no. of resin ducts mm−2), and composed >50% more area per unit ring growth than dead trees; (2) measures of defense, such as resin duct production (no. of resin ducts year−1) and the proportion of xylem ring area to resin ducts, not growth, were the best model parameters of ponderosa pine mortality; and (3) most correlations between annual variation in growth and resin duct characteristics were positive suggesting that conditions conducive to growth also increase resin duct production. Our results suggest that trees that survive drought and subsequent bark beetle attacks invest more carbon in resin defense than trees that die, and that carbon allocation to resin ducts is a more important determinant of tree mortality than allocation to radial growth.


Ips spp. Pinus ponderosa Plant defense Northern Arizona, USA Tree mortality Tree ring 



Funding for this research was provided in part by the Science Foundation of Arizona fellowship program. We would like to thank J. Negron and J. McMillin for providing mortality plot locations and associated data. Two anonymous reviewers, as well as, M. Gaylord, K. Waring, and T. Whitham gave helpful feedback on earlier versions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ForestryNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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