Long-term realised and projected growth impacts caused by autumn gum moth defoliation of 2-year-old
Eucalyptus nitens plantation trees in Tasmania, Australia
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Rapley, LP and Potts, BM and Battaglia, M and Patel, VS and Allen, GR, Long-term realised and projected growth impacts caused by autumn gum moth defoliation of 2-year-old
Eucalyptus nitens plantation trees in Tasmania, Australia, Forest Ecology and Management , 258, (9) pp. 1896-1903. ISSN 0378-1127 (2009) [Refereed Article]
Insect damage to production forests has the potential to reduce financial returns by retarding tree growth and causing mortality, however, long-term realised quantification of these losses is rare. In order to help elucidate economic damage thresholds for making spray decisions we capitalised on a natural outbreak of autumn gum moth, Mnesampela privata, in a 2-year-old Eucalyptus nitens plantation. Following the partial chemical control of this insect outbreak we measured the tree growth variables diameter at breast height over bark and height of five differing tree defoliation classes for 75 months following tree damage. At the end of this period a threshold model was fitted to describe the relationship between tree defoliation and realised tree wood volumes. The model revealed that realised stand wood volume was not significantly affected up until defoliation exceeded 60% and then declined sharply after this defoliation level was reached. Further support for this defoliation threshold was evident from multiple comparisons among defoliation classes that showed 50% defoliated trees did not have significantly different wood volume compared to more lightly defoliated trees, but did have significantly greater wood volume compared to trees that were 72% or more defoliated. To determine if the realised differences in wood volume resulted in differences in yield over a plantation rotation the E. nitens growth model NITGRO was used to on-grow trees to age 15 years for a 'best case' (type 1 growth response, constant growth rates from last inventory until harvest) and 'worst case' (type 2 growth response, divergent growth rates from last inventory until harvest) scenario. The threshold model was then fitted to the outcomes of both scenarios and the economic consequences of defoliation were clearly dependent on the growth function assumed. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.
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