Invasive fruit fly may pose threat to forest ecosystems

The decay of fruits attacked by the spotted wing drosophila leads to a loss of resources, which can cause considerable ecological damage.

The invasive spotted wing drosophila (SWD), introduced from South-East Asia, is a well-known fruit crop pest. It lays its eggs by destroying the mechanical protection of the fruit’s skin, providing an entry point for further infestation. Egg deposition and inoculated microbes then accelerate decay, and as a result the fruit rots and becomes inedible. While this small fly is known to cause massive economic damage in agriculture, little is known about its ecological impact on more natural ecosystems such as forests.

The larvae of the invasive spotted wing drosophila develops in fruits of many forest species such as brambles. Its occurrence result in a fast decay of the fruits.

A recent study by Swiss scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL and the Ökobüro Biotopia, published in the scientific journal NeoBiota, concluded that the SWD competes strongly with other fruit-eating species and that its presence could have far-reaching consequences for ecosystems.

The research team assessed the use of potential host plants at 64 sites in forests from mid-June to mid-October 2020 by checking a total of 12,000 fruits for SWD egg deposits. To determine if SWD attacks trigger fruit decay, they also recorded symptoms of fruit decay after egg deposition. In addition, they monitored the fruit fly (drosophilid) fauna in the area, assuming that the SWD would outnumber and possibly outcompete other fruit-eating insects.

The male of the invasive spotted wing drosophila can be easily identified by the dark spots on the wings.

The authors found egg deposits on the fruits of 31 of the 39 fruit-bearing forest plant species they studied, with 18 species showing an attack rate of more than 50%. Furthermore, more than 50% of the affected plant species showed severe symptoms of decay after egg deposition. The egg depositions may alter the attractiveness of fruits, because they change their chemical composition and visual cues, such as colour, shape and reflective patterns, which in turn might lead seed dispersers such as birds to consume less fruits.

Given the large number of infested fruits, significant ecological impacts can be expected. “Rapid decay of fruits attacked by the spotted wing drosophila results in a loss of fruit available for other species competing for this resource, and may disrupt seed-dispersal mutualisms due to reduced consumption of fruit by dispersers such as birds,” says Prof. Martin M. Gossner, entomologist at the WSL. “If the fly reproduces in large numbers, both seed dispersers and plants could suffer.”

The females of the invasive spotted wing drosophila has an enlarged, serrated ovipositor to attack undamaged fruits, which gives it a competitive advantage over native fruit flies.

The authors further found that SWD were strongly represented and dominant in trap catches, and showed that the more abundant SWD were, the less abundant native drosophilids were. This suggests additional negative impacts of the invasive species on native communities.

With ongoing climate change, these potentially severe ecological impacts might be amplified in temperate forests, as higher average and winter temperatures will most likely lead to shorter generation times and lower winter mortality, which will eventually further increase the pressure on forest fruits and the competitiveness of the SWD over native drosophilids, the authors note.

Research article:
Bühlmann I, Gossner MM (2022) Invasive Drosophila suzukii outnumbers native controphics and causes substantial damage to fruits of forest plants. NeoBiota 77: 39-77. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.77.87319

Photos by Prof. Martin M. Gossner.

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Bulgarian Academy of Sciences signs with Pensoft to move Silva Balcanica journal to ARPHA

The first 2020 issue of the journal by the Academy’s Forest Research Institute is already online on a brand new and user-friendly website

The scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft welcomes the open-access, peer-reviewed international journal in forest science concerning the Balkan Peninsula, Central and Southern Europe Silva Balcanica to its self-developed publishing platform ARPHA. Having become the latest addition to the lengthy portfolio of scholarly outlets dedicated to the fields of ecology and biology for Pensoft and ARPHA, Silva Balcanica is now offering a wide range of benefits and services to its readers, authors, reviewers and editors alike.

Having already acquired its own glossy and user-friendly website provided by ARPHA, Silva Balcanica also takes advantage of the platform’s signature fast-track, end-to-end publishing system. In addition, the published content enjoys automated export of data to aggregators, as well as web-service integrations with major global indexing and archiving databases.

Silva Balcanica’s new website on ARPHA Platform. Visit athttps://silvabalcanica.pensoft.net 

Ever since its inception in 2001, the journal by the Forest Research Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (FRI-BAS), has been providing open access to the latest research in all aspects of forest ecosystems and landscapes of the Balkan Peninsula, and also Central and Southern Europe.

Silva Balcanica invites scientific analysis of practical results, as well as investigations, in the forest sciences, including forest ecology; forest soil science; forest genetics, tree breeding and plantation forestry; biometry and sylviculture; forest economy and management; forest entomology and pathology; ecology and management of game fauna, urban forestry and green infrastructure. Constructive critique addressing scientific publications or events in the field of forestry and forest science are also accepted.

In the first 2020 issue of Silva Balcanica, we can find a total of eight research papers, dealing with a range of various topics, including studies on local plant diversity, genetics, application of experimental designs for forestry research, ecosystem services, population dynamics, invasive pathogens and previously unknown populations of forest-dwelling insects. It brings together single-authored research contributions as well as international collaborative projects, with input from authors from Bulgaria, Greece, Northern Macedonia and Italy.

CEO and founder of both Pensoft and ARPHA Platform Prof. Lyubomir Penev comments:

“Silva Balcanica is an important scholarly outlet and also a remarkable example of international cooperation, inspired and maintained by curiosity, care and responsibility towards the unique, but fragile ecosystems this part of Europe hosts. This is why we take pride in having this particular journal joining our portfolio,”

Silva Balcanica’s Editorial Board says:

“The Scientific Council of the Forest Research Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences decided to begin publishing Silva Balcanica as an international series in 2001 and since 2014, Silva Balcanica has been published as an international journal.

We are honored to have as members of our Editorial Advisory Board eminent European professors and researchers in forestry and related sciences that join our efforts in pursuit of high quality scientific publishing.

We are confident that Silva Balcanica will unite the research of scientists and specialists in forestry from Southeastern, Central and Eastern Europe and beyond, and will help them in the processes of their European integration.”

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Visit the new website of Silva Balcanica at https://silvabalcanica.pensoft.net.

A decade of monitoring shows the dynamics of a conserved Atlantic tropical forest

Characterised with its immense biodiversity and high levels of endemism, the Atlantic Tropical Forest has been facing serious anthropogenic threats over the last several decades, demanding for such activities and their effects to be closely studied and monitored as part of the forest dynamics.

Cattle farming, expanding agricultural land areas and mining have reduced the Atlantic Forest to many small patches of vegetation. As a result, important ecosystem services, such as carbon stock, are steadily diminishing as the biomass decreases.

Brazilian researchers, led by Dr. Écio Souza Diniz, Federal University of Viçosa, spent a decade monitoring a semi-deciduous forest located in an ecological park in Southeast Brazil. Their observations are published in the open access Biodiversity Data Journal.

The team surveyed two stands within the forest to present variations in the structure and diversity of the plants over time, along with their dynamics, including mortality and establishment rates. They based their findings on the most abundant tree species occurring within each stand.

At the forest stands, the most abundant and important species for biomass accumulation are concluded to be trees larger than 20 cm in diameter, which characterise advanced successional stage within the forest.

“It is fundamental that opportunities to monitor conserved sites of the Atlantic Forest are taken, so that studies about their dynamics are conducted in order to better understand how they work,” note the scientists.

“The information from such surveys could improve the knowledge about the dynamics at anthropised and fragmented sites compared with protected areas.”

In order to encourage further research into the composition, diversity and structure of the Atlantic Forest over time and the subsequent contributions to the preservation of this threatened ecosystem, the authors made their data publicly available. The datasets, including species occurrences, are now openly accessible via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility(GBIF) and the biodiversity informatics data standard Darwin Core.

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Original source:

Diniz ES, Carvalho W, Santos R, Gastauer M, Garcia P, Fontes M, Coelho P, Moreira A, Menino G, Oliveira-Filho A (2017) Long-term monitoring of diversity and structure of two stands of an Atlantic Tropical Forest. Biodiversity Data Journal 5: e13564. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.5.e13564