Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of larch budmoth outbreaks in the French Alps over the last 500 years

Abstract : In the subalpine forest ecosystems of the French Alps, European larch trees (Larix decidua Mill.) are periodically affected by outbreaks of a defoliating insect, the larch budmoth (Zeiraphera griseana (Hubner, 1799); LBM). To assess the long-term dynamics of LBM populations, we propose a spatiotemporal analysis of a long outbreak chronology reconstruction for the entire French Alps covering the period 1414-2009. This chronology was obtained by analyzing tree ring width (TRW) chronologies collected from 44 larch populations. The evidence of a latitudinal gradient in LBM is an original result that we have related to the "travelling waves" and "epicenter" theory. Wavelet analyses revealed a strong explicit continuous signal for periodicities of 4, 8, and 16 years throughout the entire 1500-2003 time series, except for a loss of power from 1690 to 1790 and since the early 1980s. We hypothesize that these abrupt changes could reflect a physiological response of LBM to past climatic variations. The spatial and temporal variability of LBM outbreaks and the propagation phenomenon in the French Alps highlighted by this study raises questions regarding its future dynamics in response to the expected climate change.
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Mélanie Saulnier, Alain Roques, Frédéric Guibal, Philippe Rozenberg, Ginette Saracco, et al.. Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of larch budmoth outbreaks in the French Alps over the last 500 years. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, NRC Research Press, 2017, 47 (5), pp.667 - 680. ⟨10.1139/cjfr-2016-0211⟩. ⟨hal-01605939⟩



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