Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Cara R. Nelson

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences

Abstract

The western hemlock looper moth (Lambdina fiscellaria) is a major defoliator in conifer-dominated forests across western North America. For example, in the 1990’s the Columbia National Forest in Canada saw outbreaks that completely defoliated up to 50 continuous hectares. Outbreaks this large cause easily identifiable timber-related problems, but to date there has not been any literature published on how these outbreaks affect non-timber forest products such as huckleberries (Vaccinium globulare) and bear-grass (Xerophyllum tenax). From what I have observed in the field, the western hemlock looper uses these ecologically, economically, and culturally important understory species as habitat. In order to identify the impact of the western hemlock looper on these plant species first we must determine if they are in fact suitable food sources. I am conducting research to determine if there are (1) differences among food sources (huckleberries, bear-grass, or western hemlock) in rates of survival, growth-related index (weight gain per unit of time), or reproductive capacity (fecundity and egg size) of the western hemlock looper; and (2) differences in rates of herbivory by the western hemlock looper on these target plants (huckleberries, bear-grass, or western hemlock). The results of this study will better inform future research, conservation and management efforts.

Category

Life Sciences

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Huckleberries, Bear-Grass and the Western Hemlock Looper

The western hemlock looper moth (Lambdina fiscellaria) is a major defoliator in conifer-dominated forests across western North America. For example, in the 1990’s the Columbia National Forest in Canada saw outbreaks that completely defoliated up to 50 continuous hectares. Outbreaks this large cause easily identifiable timber-related problems, but to date there has not been any literature published on how these outbreaks affect non-timber forest products such as huckleberries (Vaccinium globulare) and bear-grass (Xerophyllum tenax). From what I have observed in the field, the western hemlock looper uses these ecologically, economically, and culturally important understory species as habitat. In order to identify the impact of the western hemlock looper on these plant species first we must determine if they are in fact suitable food sources. I am conducting research to determine if there are (1) differences among food sources (huckleberries, bear-grass, or western hemlock) in rates of survival, growth-related index (weight gain per unit of time), or reproductive capacity (fecundity and egg size) of the western hemlock looper; and (2) differences in rates of herbivory by the western hemlock looper on these target plants (huckleberries, bear-grass, or western hemlock). The results of this study will better inform future research, conservation and management efforts.