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Title: Moisture content and nutrition as selection forces for emerald ash borer larval feeding behaviour

Author: Chen, Yigen; Ciaramitaro, Tina; Poland, Therese M.

Year: 2011

Publication: Ecological Entomology. 36: 344-354.

Abstract: The exotic phloem-feeding emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, has killed tens of millions of North American ash trees (Fraxinus) since its first detection in the U.S.A. in 2002. Ash trees are killed by larval feeding in the cambial region, which disrupts translocation of photosynthates and nutrients. We observed that EAB larvae feed predominantly downwards in naturally grown green ash trees, a behaviour confirmed in greenhouse-grown black ash seedlings. Furthermore, biomass of larvae feeding downwards was greater than that for larvae feeding upwards. We sought to determine the relative importance of four selection forces (i.e. gravity, moisture content, plant defence, and nutrition) in driving this downward feeding behaviour in this study. The gravity and plant defence (i.e. polyphenols) hypotheses were ruled out because even when seedlings were grown upside down, more EAB larvae moved upwards (towards the root area), and phloem tissue below the feeding site contained higher concentrations of defensive compounds than that above the feeding site.

Last Modified: 6/1/2011

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