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Forests 2014, 5(1), 88-102; doi:10.3390/f5010088

Composition and Elevation of Spruce Forests Affect Susceptibility to Bark Beetle Attacks: Implications for Forest Management

Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural resources, Animals and Environment, University of Padova, Viale dell'Università, 16/a, Legnaro 35020 PD, Italy
Servizio fitosanitario e chimico, ricerca, sperimentazione e assistenza tecnica—ERSA, via Sabbatini 5, Pozzuolo del Friuli 33050 UD, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 November 2013 / Revised: 31 December 2013 / Accepted: 6 January 2014 / Published: 14 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Interactions between Bark Beetles and Forests)
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The spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae), is one of the most destructive insects infesting spruce forests in Europe. Data concerning infestations of I. typographus occurring over the last 19 years (1994–2012) on the Southern Alps were analyzed in seven spruce forest types: (1) pure spruce plantations; (2) pure spruce reforestations; (3) pure spruce mountain forests; (4) pure spruce alpine forests; (5) spruce-conifer mixed forests; (6) spruce-broadleaf mixed forests; and (7) spruce-conifer-broadleaf mixed forests. The collected data included the amount of I. typographus damage and the location and composition of the infested forests. The results indicate that different forest types are differently susceptible to I. typographus. Plantations, reforestations and mountain spruce forests show mean damage and mean number of infestations higher than other forest types. Within pure spruce forests, alpine forests growing at high elevations (>1300 m) suffer low damage. Furthermore, the mean number of infestation spots recorded annually in the different spruce forest types is negatively correlated with a Naturality Index value. The results suggest that forest composition and elevation are the main factors driving the risk of I. typographus damage. A new management strategy for some spruce forest types is needed, with a progressive reduction of pure spruce forests at low altitude and an increase of broadleaf composition.
Keywords: Scolytinae; Ips typographus; forest management; outbreaks; Southern Alps; Italy Scolytinae; Ips typographus; forest management; outbreaks; Southern Alps; Italy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Faccoli, M.; Bernardinelli, I. Composition and Elevation of Spruce Forests Affect Susceptibility to Bark Beetle Attacks: Implications for Forest Management. Forests 2014, 5, 88-102.

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