Emerald Ash Borer and Insectivorous Insects

argumentative Essay
1656 words
1656 words

Predator-prey relationships are complex interactions involving many factors that may influence the stability of each population of species. Avian insectivores and their relationship with the different species of insects they consume is one of these relationships that has become of interest in recent years. Widespread outbreaks of the Southern Pine Beetles in the Southeast, Emerald Ash Borers in the upper Midwest, and Bark Beetles in the Pacific Northwest are killing various tree species in forests including pines and ash. Although some of these insect outbreaks may be able to be controlled with pesticides, introducing such pesticides in long-standing forests could potentially be detrimental to the health of forest and thus their use is not a preferred method of control. As a result, researchers are searching for a biological control agent capable of containing the spread of such pests.
One such control agent of interest among many researchers includes avian insectivores. Often, species of woodpeckers, warblers, and nuthatches occupy the same habitat as these infected trees and as generalists species, consume these insect larvae. Research in the area has focused on three key areas. The first is examining the relationship of the insectivorous birds and the non-native prey. The second is whether the avian species may serve as a biocontrol to either slow or prevent the spread of an insect outbreak thus impacting other species in the community. Finally, determining which methods are the most important in management of these habitats is of importance. This brief literature review will show what the research has shown regarding each of these issues including a discussion of literature gaps and critique.
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...ifying the Impact of Woodpecker Predation on Population Dynamics of the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis). PloS one 8(12):e83491.
Koenig, W.D., A.M. Liebhold, D.N. Bonter, W.M. Hochachka, and J.L. Dickinson. 2013. Effects of the emerald ash borer invasion on four species of birds. Bird Invasions 15: 2095-2103.
Lindell, C.A., D.G. McCullough, D. Cappaert, N.M. Apostolou, and M.B. Roth. 2008. Factors Influencing Woodpecker Predation on Emerald Ash Borer. The American Midland Naturalist. 159:434-444.
Marquis, R.J., and C.J. Whelan. 1994. Insectivorous Birds Increase Growth of White Oak Through Consumption of Leaf-Chewing Insects. Ecology 75:2007-2014.
Haack, R. A., E. Jendek, H. Liu, K.R. Marchant, T.R. Petrice, T. M. Poland, and H. Ye (2002). The emerald ash borer: a new exotic pest in North America. Newsletter of the Michigan Entomological Society 47(3-4):1-5.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that insectivorous birds control prey populations and exert selective pressures that may lead to adaptations, which aid in predator avoidance.
  • Explains that the emerald ash borer (agrilus planipennis) is a non-native invader species in the united states.
  • Analyzes how koenig et al. (2013) used information from project feederwatch to determine whether three species of woodpeckers and a one-species of nuthatch showed an increase in their population size.
  • Explains that lindell et al. (2008) found a significant increase in woodpecker predation based on the species of tree and the condition of the tree.
  • Compares the effects of insecticides, bird predation, and a control site to see if there is an impact on the biomass of the plants.
  • Opines that habitat management is still a concern despite the trophic cascade between insectivorous birds and emerald ash borers. ash is an important tree from an ecological and economic standpoint.
  • Explains that the emerald ash borer is a relatively new, invasive species to forests in the united states, thus the long-term effects on the forest communities hosting them are not fully known.
  • Explains that predator-prey relationships are complex interactions involving many factors that may influence the stability of each population of species.
  • Asks whether the interaction between insectivorous birds and the emerald ash borer will cause a trophic cascade.
  • Explains that the emerald ash borer is a new exotic pest in north america.
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