Insect herbivore damage on latitudinally translocated silver birch (Betula pendula) – predicting the effects of climate change
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Boreal forests might be challenged by increased herbivory pressure in the future due to global warming, since warming is predicted to increase the abundance of herbivorous insects and to lead to shifts in their distribution towards higher latitudes where they might face more palatable food sources. We studied the effect of the latitudinal translocation of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) on herbivore damage to 26 micropropagated genotypes originating from six populations ranging from 60 to 67°N in Finland in two growing seasons, 2011 and 2012. The genotypes were planted at three sites located in southern (60°N), central (62°N) and northern (67°N) Finland. The genotypes translocated to lower latitudes from their latitudes of origin were experiencing higher intensity of herbivore damage compared to the genotypes translocated to higher latitudes in 2011, but not in 2012. All genotypes were experiencing herbivore damage by local herbivores of each study site. These results suggest that, as many herbivore species are predicted to shift their ranges towards higher latitudes, they can feed on novel host plant genotypes and may face more palatable food sources than at their present range. This suggests that future climate change will increase herbivore damage to young silver birch. Increased herbivory, in turn, might affect the growth of birch and therefore should be considered when making predictions about the boreal forest composition in the future.
KeywordsBoreal Forest Herbivore Damage Silver Birch Betula Pendula Herbivore Community
We thank the staff of Natural Resources Institute Finland, Luke (the former Finnish Forest Research Institute, METLA) in Haapastensyrjä and H. Hakulinen in UEF for micropropagation and producing the plantlets, M. Pekkonen, K. Ranta, I. Heikkilä and other staff of Luke in Tuusula and Kolari who took care of the experiment and helped in data collection, and the staff of Botania in Joensuu. We also thank field assistants P. Junes, E. Issakainen, S. Hakkarainen and A. Pajula. We appreciate the anonymous reviewers and M. Kozlov for their comments that helped us to improve the manuscript. We acknowledge the E-OBS dataset from the EU-FP6 project ENSEMBLES (http://ensembles-eu.metoffice.com) and the data providers in the ECA&D project (http://www.ecad.eu). Research was supported by the strategic funding of the University of Eastern Finland, project 931060.
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