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Too much of a good thing: landscape-scale facilitation eventually turns into competition between a lepidopteran defoliator and a bark beetle

Abstract

Context

Species distributions are influenced by how individuals interact with conspecifics, how they interact with other species, and by abiotic environmental factors. Resolving the nature of interspecific interactions using the relative spatial distributions of multiple species can therefore be considered an inverse problem.

Objective

We wished to determine whether defoliation by a lepidopteran (Choristoneura biennis [Freeman]) facilitates subsequent spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis [Kirby]) attack using spatiotemporal infestation patterns.

Methods

We used convergent cross mapping to probe time series of historical outbreaks of C. biennis and D. rufipennis in British Columbia, Canada, for evidence of interspecific interactions. We then fitted mixed model logistic regressions to spatial outbreak data to determine whether the probability of D. rufipennis infestation is impacted by prior defoliation by C. biennis.

Results

Convergent cross-mapping suggested that prior defoliation by C. biennis impacts D. rufipennis populations but this method cannot give information on the nature of the interaction. Our logistic regressions, however, provided insight into the nature of interactions by showing that the odds of moderate D. rufipennis infestation increased after moderate C. biennis infestation but decreased after severe C. biennis outbreaks. Thus, interactions between C. biennis and D. rufipennis are facilitative at moderate severities of C. biennis defoliation, but increasingly competitive as C. biennis outbreak severity increases.

Conclusions

Interactions between our study insects shifted from facilitative to competitive depending on outbreak severity—a proxy for population density. Density-dependent shifts from facilitation to competition are likely common in the animal kingdom.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Tim Ebata of the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and GurpThandi of the Canadian Forest Service for access to maps of insect outbreaks in British Columbia. Thanks to Staffan Lindgren and Maya Evenden for proofreading and helpful comments. This study was completed as part of DWG’s doctoral work and funded by the National Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) which awarded a PGS-D2 scholarship to DWG and separate Discovery Grants to VJL and NE.

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Correspondence to Devin W. Goodsman.

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Goodsman, D.W., Goodsman, J.S., McKenney, D.W. et al. Too much of a good thing: landscape-scale facilitation eventually turns into competition between a lepidopteran defoliator and a bark beetle. Landscape Ecol 30, 301–312 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-014-0139-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-014-0139-3

Keywords

  • Bark beetle
  • Budworm
  • Causality
  • Competition
  • Dendroctonus
  • Facilitation
  • Interaction
  • Outbreak
  • Pattern
  • Process