Windthrow causes declines in carbohydrate and phenolic concentrations and increased monoterpene emission in Norway spruce


PLoS One. 2024 May 28;19(5):e0302714. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0302714. eCollection 2024.


With the increasing frequencies of extreme weather events caused by climate change, the risk of forest damage from insect attacks grows. Storms and droughts can damage and weaken trees, reduce tree vigour and defence capacity and thus provide host trees that can be successfully attacked by damaging insects, as often observed in Norway spruce stands attacked by the Eurasian spruce bark beetle Ips typographus. Following storms, partially uprooted trees with grounded crowns suffer reduced water uptake and carbon assimilation, which may lower their vigour and decrease their ability to defend against insect attack. We conducted in situ measurements on windthrown and standing control trees to determine the concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), of phenolic defences and volatile monoterpene emissions. These are the main storage and defence compounds responsible for beetleĀ“s pioneer success and host tree selection. Our results show that while sugar and phenolic concentrations of standing trees remained rather constant over a 4-month period, windthrown trees experienced a decrease of 78% and 37% of sugar and phenolic concentrations, respectively. This strong decline was especially pronounced for fructose (-83%) and glucose (-85%) and for taxifolin (-50.1%). Windthrown trees emitted 25 times greater monoterpene concentrations than standing trees, in particular alpha-pinene (23 times greater), beta-pinene (27 times greater) and 3-carene (90 times greater). We conclude that windthrown trees exhibited reduced resources of anti-herbivore and anti-pathogen defence compounds needed for the response to herbivore attack. The enhanced emission rates of volatile terpenes from windthrown trees may provide olfactory cues during bark beetle early swarming related to altered tree defences. Our results contribute to the knowledge of fallen trees vigour and their defence capacity during the first months after the wind-throw disturbance. Yet, the influence of different emission rates and profiles on bark beetle behaviour and host selection requires further investigation.

PMID:38805412 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0302714