European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 453–465

The “sun-effect”: microclimatic alterations predispose forest edges to bark beetle infestations

Original Paper


Bark beetle dispersal and host selection behaviour are a complex and poorly understood process, resulting in specific spatio-temporal infestation patterns in forests. Aerial images from the Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany) provide a high-resolution, that is, tree-scale data set for the period 2001–2010, including information about Ips typographus (Col., Curculio., Scolytinae) infestation, the application of sanitary logging, natural forest edges and the area of living spruce susceptible to bark beetle infestation. We combined methods of GIS and image analysis to investigate the infestation probabilities at three types of forest edges under spatial and temporal aspects and compared them to the corresponding probabilities at the stand interior. Our results showed a pronounced infestation predisposition of such edge trees delimiting infestation patches cleared by sanitary logging measures, in particular at the south-facing edge sector. In contrast, edges adjacent to non-cleared infestation were revealed as less attractive for subsequent infestations, but nonetheless more attractive than permanent forest edges or the stand interior. Additionally, we measured near-bark surface air temperature to determine microclimatic differences at those edge- or non-edge sites and related them to predisposition results. Finally, our study emphasized favourable microclimatic conditions—summarized as the “sun-effect”—as a decisive factor enhancing the local infestation probability at recent forest edges in multiple ways. Both insect- and host tree-related reactions to suddenly altered microclimate are supposed to bias arbitrary colonization behaviour at patch and tree level, thereby mainly explaining observed infestation patterns. From the forester’s point of view, our results may contribute to precise bark beetle risk assessment and thus facilitate decision making in forest management.


Ips typographus Host selection Infestation probability Sanitary logging Edge orientation Image processing Spatial analysis 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Institute of Animal EcologyTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and Natural SciencesHochschule DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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