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Organismic & Evolutionary Biology
Master of Science (M.S.)
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Agrilus planipennis, the emerald ash borer (EAB), is a destructive invasive forest pest decimating North American ash trees. Population-wide management of EAB focuses on biological control, with the introduction of four parasitic wasps; one egg parasitoid, Oobius agrili and three larval parasitoids- Spathius galinae, Spathius agrili and Tetrastichus planipennisi. This thesis examines some of the factors influencing the establishment of these larval biocontrol agents. Chapter 1 examines the relationship between woodpeckers and the parasitoids S. agrili and T. planipennisi. Both woodpeckers and these parasitoids attack the larval stage of EAB, which means their impacts overlap and potentially interact. To examine this relationship, I established parasitized larvae on ash trees and then used screening to exclude woodpeckers from some sections of the tree. Results show that while there is no evidence of discriminatory feeding for or against parasitized larvae, the presence of parasitized larvae changes woodpecker feeding behavior at a stand-level. I hypothesize that this change is due to these larval parasitoids being a low-food reward and that parasitism contributes to a change and decrease in patch quality, causing woodpeckers to quit foraging sooner than usual.
My second chapter focuses on Spathius galinae, which was recently approved for release in the north central and northeastern US in 2015, to provide additional population control. Spathius galinae’s long ovipositor (4-5.3mm) is theoretically expected to help target EAB in ash with larger diameters and bark thicknesses. Using experimentally infested logs of varying thicknesses in the laboratory I tested the limits and preferences for oviposition of S. galinae, to understand its potential impact on EAB. My results demonstrated that although parasitism by S. galinae drops significantly when bark thickness reaches 8 mm, this prevents S. galinae only from reaching EAB larvae in my largest ash trees (S. galinae will play a vital role in providing additional control and in supporting ash regeneration in aftermath areas of EAB invasions.
Joseph S. Elkinton
Roy G. Van Driesche
Murphy, Theresa, "FACTORS INFLUENCING IMPACT OF BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS OF THE EMERALD ASH BORER" (2017). Masters Theses. 479.