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Accumulation of Pest Insects on Eucalyptus in California: Random Process or Smoking Gun

Timothy D. Paine, Jocelyn G. Millar, Kent M. Daane
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC10214 1943-1949 First published online: 1 December 2010


Eucalyptus spp., native to Australia, have been introduced into many parts of the world as important timber and ornamental trees. Although the trees have important silvicultural qualities, they also have generated intense dissatisfaction, particularly among groups of individuals in California. The trees have benefited from the lack of insect pests and diseases in their adventive ranges but that has changed over the past four decades. In California, two species of insect herbivores were introduced between the time trees were first introduced to the state in the middle of the 19th century and 1983. Between 1983 and 2008, an additional 16 Australian insect pests of eucalyptus have become established in the state. The modes or routes of introduction have never been established. However, examinations of different temporal and spatial patterns suggest that the introductions were nonrandom processes. It is possible that they occurred because of increased trade or movement of people, but the hypothesis that there were intentional introductions also must be considered. The rapid accumulation of introduced herbivores on an ornamental plant system in a single state is a cautionary example of what could happen if a major food or fiber crop were intentionally targeted.

  • Eucalyptus
  • invasive species
  • intentional introductions
  • insect herbivores
  • adventive range

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