Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1283–1290 | Cite as

Economic loss versus ecological gain: the outbreaks of invaded pinewood nematode in China

  • Mingjian Yu
  • Xuehong Xu
  • Ping Ding
Original Paper


Pinewood nematode is native to North America and has been a deadly exotic pest infecting pine forests in Japan since the 1900s. It was first recorded in 1982 in subtropical China and has since aggressively spread to 113 counties and 14 provinces. As of 2007 the disease has infected over one million hectares of pine forests and 44 million pine trees in China 1982–2007. Besides inspection and quarantine, the main policy to control this disease is to eradicate the infected pines, which is costly and only partially effective. We investigated the community structure of four Pinus massoniana plantations with similar age and site conditions that were infested by pinewood nematode at different times (0, 4, 8, and 12 years), with the community structure in a zonal evergreen broad-leaved forest nearby. Our results demonstrate that the pinewood nematode infection accelerated the succession from the native pine plantations with higher economical values to the zonal evergreen broad-leaved forests which provide more ecological services. The conversion of pine plantations to natural forests is an urgent challenge facing China today. Thus, the infestation of pinewood nematode provides a unique opportunity for the conversion of the pine-dominated plantations and forests into broad-leaved forests and we therefore suggest that the government should invest its limited resources based on an appropriate trade-off between economic loss and ecological gain.


Bursaphelenchus xylophilus Invasive species Pine wilt disease Pinus massoniana Species diversity Stand structure 



We thank K. J. Feeley for English editing. We are grateful to D. Simberloff and an anonymous reviewer for constructive comments on the manuscript. We also thank Chengmei Zhou, Gao Lu and Xihua Wang for helping with site selection. The research was supported by the National Key Basic Research Project (No. 2000046803) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Key Laboratory of Conservation Biology for Endangered Wildlife of the Ministry of Education, College of Life SciencesZhejiang UniversityHangzhouP. R. China
  2. 2.Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingP. R. China

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