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Process-based modelling of the severity and impact of foliar pest attack on eucalypt plantation productivity under current and future climates

Pinkard, E.A., Battaglia, M., Bruce, J., Leriche, A., Kriticos, D.J.
Forest ecology and management 2010 v.259 no.4 pp. 839-847
phytophagous insects, insect pests, defoliation, Eucalyptus globulus, forest plantations, forest growth, Mycosphaerella, seasonal variation, models, photosynthesis, acclimation, carbon dioxide, elevated atmospheric gases, climatic factors, Gonipterus scutellatus, Mnesampela privata, forest yields, fertilizer application, Australia
We examined the impacts of a defoliating pest, Mycosphaerella leaf disease (MLD), on rotation-length Eucalyptus globulus plantation productivity under current and future climates by using the ecoclimatic species niche model CLIMEX to generate severity, frequency and seasonality scenarios for MLD for specific E. globulus sites. These scenarios were used as inputs to the process-based forest productivity model CABALA. Climate projections from two global climate models were used to drive CABALA with either no or full acclimation of photosynthesis to elevated atmospheric CO₂ assumed. In addition we varied water and nitrogen availability to examine the impacts of different severities of MLD on plantation productivity across environmental gradients. We predicted that, under current climatic conditions, rotation-length reductions in V associated with MLD damage would be no greater than 12%, with an across-site average of 6%. There was considerable between-site variation in predictions that reflected variation in site productivity. Under future climates, we predicted that MLD may reduce rotation length V by as much as 42%, although the reduction averaged across all sites was 11%. The predicted impact of MLD on V was greatest at lower productivity sites. The importance of N and water availability in recovery following MLD attack was highlighted. Uncertainty in model predictions revolved around the climate models used and assumptions of degree of photosynthetic acclimation to elevated CO₂. Large differences in predicted impact of MLD were associated with this uncertainty. Our results suggest that the effects of defoliation due to pests on plantation productivity should not be ignored when considering future management of forest plantations. The approach developed here provides managers with a tool to appraise risk and examine possible impacts of management interventions designed to reduce or manage risk.