The Complexity of the European Bark Beetle, Climate Change and the Forest Industry of Sweden
I wrote this article almost two years ago when I was taking a course in Conservation Ecology (CE). I wasn’t a fan of the way in which CE marginalized complex interactions into controllable numbers. The graders didn’t appreciate the deep history perspective I took when writing about this “pest species.” I don’t think I’ll ever write a report like this again (making quantitative estimates of future concerns that I cannot (will not ever again try to) predict or control), I did find it an amazing learning experience and am pretty proud of the way I wrote it, particularly the conclusion (read below). You can find it here –>(Kit Hill’s Beetle Boomer Paper (with Jönsson in Reference)) however, here’s the abstract and conclusion:
Abstract. Warnings of increased temperatures by international scientist have broadened concerns over elevating population dynamics of ‘pest species,’ like the European Bark Beetle (Ips Typographus). In Scandinavia, I. typographus typically goes through one generation of a lifecycle, scientists have predicted the survival of a 2nd generations under future increased mean temperature scenarios. This study models three possible future mean temperature scenarios, in totals of beetles and Spruce tree losses, utilizing excel to measure stochastic variance in reproductive rates and the probabilities of a second generation survival. Results found the two alternative climate scenarios highly sensitive to shifts above the lowest fecundity rates. Substantially more spruce forests will be lost with the bark beetle’s second generation realized. Alternative techniques to current forestry practices and management are explored and recommended through contemporary scientific findings in order to explain future differences as well as to proactively counter possible, severe I. typographus outbreaks.
One concept must be firmly recognized; it is easy to see Ips typographus as a ‘pest species’ and to paint it as such. However, the author of this study tends to agree more with Wermelinger’s (2004) observation – The European bark beetle is and has been an essential part of Sweden’s forest biodiversity for as long as European forest species have been observed. As much as this beetle’s life mission has always been based on killing and brooding in a Norway Spruce, it has essentially provides a habitat for endangered species within this diabolic mission. Curiously, the beetle has been dubbed a ‘pest species,’ for only as long as the modern practice of European forest management has selectively shifted Europe’s forest composition to arrangements that produce greater yields but conversely are more susceptible to ‘pest species’ outbreaks.
A cautious recommendation, not necessarily limited to Ips typographus for application; 1) look at historical records and patterns as blueprints of knowledge 2) Combine these (continuously better understood) frameworks of information with the understanding of current conservation techniques that may be applicable 3) add innovation when needed and 4) apply them to the contemporary conditions – the past will not always define the future. This ‘look in the mirror’ may prepare us for the stochastic ‘shocks’ we may soon experience and no longer be able to ignore, particularly if we continue with ‘business as usual.’