2021-08-14

Studies say that the carbohydrate reserves of trees are crucial for their survival in attacks by tussock moth caterpillars

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Studies say that the carbohydrate reserves of trees are crucial for their survival in attacks by tussock moth caterpillars

The biological characteristics of trees enable them to withstand the most severe stress. Meghan Blumstein, an NSF postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of the study, said: “In a way, oak trees are planners. Some of the food they produce during the growing season is used immediately for energy, and some is stored in the stem. And roots for emergencies. With stored carbohydrates, they can form and grow new leaves immediately after insects break out.”

But trees are not invincible, new research reveals them The specific reserve threshold required for survival: their dry wood contains 1.5% carbohydrates-or about 20-25% of their normal storage capacity. From 2016 to 2018, the repeated emergence of gypsy moths challenged the resilience of trees, causing them to shed their leaves year after year.

Studies say that the carbohydrate reserves of trees are crucial for their survival in attacks by tussock moth caterpillars(1)

“Dead trees are losing reserves Trees,” said study lead author Audrey Barker Plotkin, senior scientist at Harvard Forests. But the location of the trees is also important. The research team found that trees growing along the edge of the forest tend to have more reserves, even at the same level of falling leaves, making them more resilient than trees inside the forest. The research team believes that the trees at the edge of the forest may have experienced less severe leaf decay in the years prior to 2018. Moreover, because marginal trees receive a lot of light, they may also be able to recover without depleting their reserves like trees in inland forests.

As new pests and changing climate continue to drive changes in the region, this finer understanding will help improve forest resilience models.