Effects of management on ambrosia beetles and their antagonists in European beech forests.
Land-use intensification has been shown to negatively affect biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Because higher trophic levels are expected to suffer most strongly from intensification, negative consequences for ecosystem services, such as biological pest control by natural enemies, are likely. In European beech forests ambrosia beetles are common secondary pests of freshly cut wood and stored timber, but they may also infest living trees that are highly stressed. We examined whether forest management intensity, ranging from unmanaged beech forests to non-natural conifer plantations, affects the abundance, attack rate, and breeding success of ambrosia beetles across three regions of Germany. We applied pheromone trapping to estimate the abundance of ambrosia beetles and exposed experimental beech logs to measure infestation rates and breeding success. In general, we found decreasing abundance and attack probability by ambrosia beetles with increasing management intensity, which is most likely related to the availability of suitable breeding substrate. However, the abundance of the invasive species Xylosandrus germanus increased with increasing management intensity in one region, where high management intensity was represented by pine forests; the drier and warmer conditions in this forest type most likely increased population densities. Breeding success of Trypodendron domesticum increased with increasing management intensity, suggesting less effective pest control by natural antagonists, in particular by specialised parasitoids, at high management intensities. We conclude that the availability of breeding substrate, in combination with microclimate and antagonist effectiveness, shape ambrosia beetle populations in Central European forests. Forest management strategies should thus reduce the availability of breeding substrate in production forests, in particular where microclimatic conditions are favourable for beetle reproduction (i.e. warm, moist). Moreover, unmanaged forest patches should be maintained to promote parasitoid abundance and thus to mitigate negative effects of climate change, such as increasing drought stress of trees.