Oleoresin Chemistry Mediates Oviposition Behavior and Fecundity of a Tree-Killing Bark Beetle

Thomas S. Davis, Richard Hofstetter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Many herbivores are sensitive to the secondary chemistry of their host plants. However, the influence of pine secondary chemicals (monoterpenes) on bark beetle fitness is poorly understood. We tested the hypothesis that the monoterpene composition of the phloem oleoresin of ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa var scopulorum, mediates rates of host acceptance, oviposition behavior, and fecundity of the western pine beetle, Dendroctonus brevicomis. We performed reciprocal rearing experiments, controlling for the monoterpene composition (chemotype) of host material. We tested the effects of two geographically interspersed host chemotypes on beetles with unknown (wild) and known (reared F 1) chemical histories. Host chemotype and insect chemical history did not affect rates of acceptance of host material by female beetles. Insect chemical history affected egg gallery construction, and beetles constructed egg galleries that were on average 24.3% longer when reared in host material that was chemically similar to their natal host material. However, mean egg gallery lengths did not differ between host chemotypes. Insect chemical history also influenced fecundity: F 1 beetles produced 52.7% more offspring on average when reared in host material that was chemically similar to their natal host. Our experiments demonstrate that the chemical history of bark beetles mediates egg gallery construction and fecundity, but not host acceptance. This implicates chemical history as a more important factor than host chemotype in the oviposition behavior and fecundity of D. brevicomis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1183
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011



  • α-Pinene
  • Dendroctonus brevicomis
  • Gas chromatography-Flame ionization detection (GC-FID)
  • Herbivore
  • Hopkins host selection principle
  • Monoterpene composition
  • Performance
  • Phenotype
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • Secondary chemistry
  • {increment}-3-Carene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

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