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Pine processionary caterpillar Thaumetopoea pityocampa as a new threat for relict Mediterranean Scots pine forests under climatic warming



Pine processionary caterpillar Thaumetopoea pityocampa as a new threat for relict Mediterranean Scots pine forests under climatic warming



Biological Conservation ch; 110(1): 123-129



The wide distribution of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Europe includes two relict populations in southern Spain (Sierra Nevada and Sierra de Baza), belonging to the subspecies nevadensis. These populations are isolated in high mountains, which tends to protect them from the attack of a severe defoliating Mediterranean pest, the pine processionary moth Thaumetopoea pityocampa. However, as a consequence of climate change, the pine processionary caterpillar has increasingly attacked populations of this pine in recent years. This work describes the detrimental effects of defoliation by the pine processionary caterpillar in P. sylvestris subsp. nevadensis in Sierra Nevada. Defoliation strongly reduced pine growth as well as all the reproductive parameters measured (female and male cone production, mature cone size, seed production and seed weight), in addition to some deaths. If winter temperatures continue to increase, the pine processionary caterpillar will have a dangerous impact in these relict pine populations, by further reducing the pine's weak regeneration capacity. We suggest some mitigation actions based on managing habitat structure, in order to reduce or avoid such negative impacts.

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Accession: 003885112

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DOI: 10.1016/s0006-3207(02)00183-0


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