Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Review of the direct and indirect effects of warming and drought on scale insect pests of forest systems.

Abstract

Higher temperatures and drought are key aspects of global change with the potential to alter the distribution and severity of many arthropod pests in forest systems. Scale insects (Hemiptera: Coccoidea) infest many tree species and are among the most important pests of trees in urban and rural forests, plantations and other forest systems. Infestations of native or exotic scale insects can kill or sicken trees with economic and ecosystem-wide consequences. Warming can have direct effects on the life history, fitness and population dynamics of many scale insect species by increasing development rate, survival or fecundity. These direct benefits can increase the geographic distribution of scale insects and their consequences for tree health. Warming and drought can affect scale insects indirectly by altering the quality of their host trees. Additive or interactive effects of warming and drought can change tree quality in such a way that it increases scale insect fitness and population growth. However, the effects are species- and context-dependent with some scale insect species negatively affected by drought-induced changes in tree quality. Warming and drought are often coincident in urban forests and predicted to co-occur in many parts of the world under climate change scenarios. The individual and interactive effects of these factors require further research to inform predictions and management of scale insect pests. Warming also indirectly affects scale insects by altering interactions with natural enemies. This includes changes in natural enemy phenology, community composition and abundance. In addition, warming can alter scale insect phenology or voltinism causing asynchrony with natural enemies or population growth too rapid for natural enemies to suppress. Direct and indirect effects of warming and drought on scale insects can increase the potential for some exotic species to become established and for some native species to become invasive. Unfortunately, much research on scale insects is confined to a few particularly important native or exotic pests which limits our ability to predict the effects of warming on many current or potential pests. More research is required to understand how warming and drought affect scale insects, scale insect management and the forest systems they inhabit.