Biological Invasions

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1151–1164 | Cite as

Inter-species interactions and ecosystem effects of non-indigenous invasive and native tree-killing bark beetles

  • Bjørn Økland
  • Nadir Erbilgin
  • Olav Skarpaas
  • Erik Christiansen
  • Bo Långström
Original Paper


Frequent bark beetle outbreaks cause biome-scale impacts in boreal and temperate forests worldwide. Despite frequent interceptions at ports of entry, the most aggressive bark beetle species of Ips and Dendroctonus in North America and Eurasia have failed to establish outside their original home continents. Our experiments showed that Ips typographus can breed in six North American spruce species: Engelmann spruce, white spruce¸ Sitka spruce, Lutz spruce, black spruce and red spruce. This suggests that differences between the Eurasian historical host and North American spruce species are not an insurmountable barrier to establishment of this tree-killing species in North America. However, slightly diminished quality of offspring beetles emerged from the North American spruces could reduce the chance of establishment through an Allee effect. The probabilistic nature of invasion dynamics suggests that successful establishments can occur when the import practice allows frequent arrivals of non-indigenous bark beetles (increased propagule load). Model simulations of hypothetical interactions of Dendroctonus rufipennis and I. typographus indicated that inter-species facilitations could result in more frequent and severe outbreaks than those caused by I. typographus alone. The potential effects of such new dynamics on coniferous ecosystems may be dramatic and extensive, including major shifts in forest structure and species composition, increased carbon emissions and stream flow, direct and indirect impacts on wildlife and invertebrate communities, and loss of biodiversity.


Species introduction Invasive species Ips Dendroctonus Coniferous forests Outbreak frequency 



Gro Wollebæk, Ulf Johansson, Morgan Erixon and Anna Björklund are thanked for technical assistance in the field experiment. Thanks to Mari Mette Tollefsen and Eva Solbjørg Flo Heggem for their contributions in developing distribution map of spruce species, to Ken Raffa for useful references about ecosystem function effects, to Stein Tomter for compiling statistics about forest cover and to Wendy Fjeldstad for text comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bjørn Økland
    • 1
  • Nadir Erbilgin
    • 2
  • Olav Skarpaas
    • 3
  • Erik Christiansen
    • 1
  • Bo Långström
    • 4
  1. 1.Norwegian Forest and Landscape InstituteÅsNorway
  2. 2.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden

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