Insects and mites feeding on berries of Juniperus foetidissima Willd. on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus
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Endemic forests with Juniperus spp. in the Mediterranean are listed as a priority habitat in the EU Habitats Directive, with the stinking juniper tree (Juniperus foetidissima Willd.) a key constituent. Within the EU, the island of Cyprus represents the southernmost range of distribution of J. foetidissima with clumps of the tree located mostly on the rocky and steep slopes of the Troodos National Forest Park (NFP) between 1.500–1.950 m above sea level. The reproductive potential of J. foetidissima may be at risk, partly because of berry attacks by arthropods. To identify the arthropod species that infest J. foetidissima berries we sampled trees biweekly for one year at three elevations (1.950 m, 1.800 m, and 1.650 m). We identified four microlepidoptera species attacking berries: Pammene mariana (Zerny), P. juniperana (Millière), P. blockiana (Herrich-Schäffer) (Lepidoptera: Torticidae) and Argyresthia aurulentella Stainton (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae). Eriophyid mites were also recorded to feed on berries. All insect species are recorded for the first time in Cyprus. Infestation during the maturation period of berries collected by cutting varied from an average of 16% at the medium elevation (1.800 m) to 11% at the low elevation (1.650 m). Infestation of berries collected by beating remained above 30% during the berry maturation period.
KeywordsSeed predators Arthropods Pre-dispersal seed predation EU priority habitat Juniper trees
We are grateful to Dr. Ole Karsholt (Natural History Museum of Denmark) and Dr. Berend Aukema (Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands) for morphological identification of the species Pammene blockiana and Cyphostethus tristriatus, respectively. We also thank Xypteras Nikolaos for his valuable help during samplings in the Troodos NFP. Our work was part of the project “Improving the Conservation Status of the Priority Habitat type 9560* (Endemic forests with Juniperus spp.) in Cyprus” which was implemented with the contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the EU (LIFE10 NAT/CY/000717).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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