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Determining the vulnerability of Mexican pine forests to bark beetles of the genus Dendroctonus Erichson (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae)

Salinas-Moreno, Y., Ager, A., Vargas, C.F., Hayes, J.L., Zúñiga, G.
Forest ecology and management 2010 v.260 no.1 pp. 52
bark beetles, Dendroctonus, forest insects, Pinus, coniferous forests, pest monitoring, geographical distribution, species diversity, host preferences, host plants, forest trees, biogeography, Mexico
Bark beetles of the genus Dendroctonus are natural inhabitants of forests; under particular conditions some species of this genus can cause large-scale tree mortality. However, only in recent decades has priority been given to the comprehensive study of these insects in México. México possesses high ecological diversity in Dendroctonus-Pinus associations. The geographic coexistence of 12 Dendroctonus species suggests greater vulnerability or threat of tree mortality relative to other areas. We use a biogeographic strategy to identify and rank the areas most vulnerable to tree mortality caused by bark beetles in México. We aim to define the areas that might experience high impact by these insects and also to provide a geographic database useful to forest resource management and conservation policies in México. Using collection records of bark beetles and pines, we develop a quantitative estimate of the threat of beetle infestation of forest areas based on factors including pine and beetle species density, host preference and level of mortality caused by beetle species. A quantitative estimate of forest area vulnerability, the Bark Beetle Threat Index (BBTI) was calculated. Despite the vast area of geographic coincidence of Pinus and Dendroctonus in México, the regions of highest bark beetle pressure are restricted to small zones within some mountain systems. The region that has been most affected by this insect group during the past hundred years is the Transverse Volcanic Belt, followed by the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre del Sur. Pine diversity is the major determining factor of BBTI at the regional level, while disturbances from extensive logging and ecosystem change are the key factors behind high BBTIs at the local level.