Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The effect of spruce cone insects on seed production in Switzerland.

Abstract

In 1989 and 1990, spruce cones were harvested at 29 sites distributed over the five main geographic regions of Switzerland, i.e. Jura, Central Plateau, North, Central and South Alps. The presence of insects and the species-specific consumption of seeds was determined for each cone by examination of the median longitudinal section. Seven seed-feeding species (Assara terebrella, Cydia strobilella, Dioryctria abietella, Eupithecia abietaria, Megastigmus strobilobius, Plemeliella abietina, Strobilomyia anthracina [Lasiomma anthracinum]) and the spruce cone gall midge Kaltenbachiola strobi were found in the samples. The proportions of infested cones ranged from 36 to 100%. The regions did not show significant differences in terms of infestation rates, whereas differences between sites within the regions were highly significant. Seed loss ranged from 2 to 100%, its geographical distribution exhibiting a similar pattern to the infestation rates. Considering the number of infested cones, C. strobilella was the most abundant species, followed by K. strobi and P. abietina. Cones infested by conospermatophagous species (C. strobilella, D. abietella, E. abietaria) showed higher seed losses than those infested by spermatophages (M. strobilobius, P. abietina). Due to the ubiquitous occurrence of C. strobilella, its high infestation rates and the resulting seed losses caused by its offspring, this species has to be considered as the most important insect seed predator in Switzerland. A multiple linear regression analysis was carried out for each region to simultaneously explore the impact of site and tree variables as well as the effect of insect attack on the yield of viable seeds. The results indicate that site and tree conditions contributed more to the variability of seed yield than insect presence in a cone. The model predicted significant effects of insect attack mainly for cones with total seed numbers that were higher than the average.