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Forest Disturbance Dynamics

Pathogens and insects

Tiia Drenkhan

Chair of Silviculture and Forest Ecology
Institute of Forestry and Rural Engineering

• concepts
• type of diseases
• forest health
• climate changes
• pathogens/insects
• diseases and pests in Estonia
• discussion

• Plant pathology - science dealing with the study of pathogenic microorganisms
and unfavourable environmental conditions causing disease
• Forest pathology - specialised branch of plant pathology dealing with tree
diseases, any disorder in the tree and its products
• Plant disease - any deviation in the normal function of a plant caused by a
persistent agent
• Entomology - the scientific study of insects, a branch of zoology

Forest disturbances

• Forest disturbance can be abrupt (e.g., hurricanes) or chronic (e.g., acid rain); stand-replacing (e.g., clear-cut
logging) or not (e.g., selective logging); complete (e.g., landslides) or incomplete (e.g., insect defoliation);
natural (e.g., tornados) or anthropogenic (e.g., land conversion); widespread (e.g., fire) or geographically
restricted (e.g., avalanches); temporary (e.g., blowdowns) or permanent (deforestation and land use
conversion) (Frolking et al., 2009)
• Disturbances, both human-induced and natural, shape forest systems by influencing their composition,
structure, and functional processes (Dale et al., 2001)
• Any relatively discrete event in time that disrupts ecosystem, community or population structure and
changes resources, substrate availability, or the physical environment (White and Pickett, 1985)
• Forest disturbances influence how much carbon is stored in trees or dead wood.

• Grebner, D.L., Bettinger, P., Siry, J.P. 2013. Introduction to
Forestry and Natural Resources. Academic Press, 508 p.

• Biotic factor - A living or
infectious disease causing agent
• Symptoms are plant-part specific

• Abiotic factor - a non-living or non-infectious factor capable of
causing disease
• Abiotic factors: fire, drought, introduced species, hurricanes,
windstorms, ice storms, and landslides, temperature extremes,
nutrional imbalances, soil oxygen deficiencies, moisture stress,
phytotoxic gases etc.
• Symptoms may or may not be plant-part specific

Climate changes
• Increasing average temperature has influence to:
• Insect (short life cycles, mobility, reproductive potential, physiological
sensitivity to temperature)
• Pathogens (survival, reproduction, dispersal)
• Forest ecosystem (fire, drought, new species, windstorms etc.)

• Diseases can be caused by: fungi, bacteria, nematodes, viruses,
mycoplasmas, protozoa, mites etc.

• Symptoms caused by pathogens: root and stem rot, seedling damp

off, downy mildews, wilt, leaf spots, rust, heart wood rot, decay,
crown gall etc.

Insects as vectors of diseases

• Insects (e.g. Hylobius sp., Hylastes sp.) are vectors:

fungi (Heterobasidon sp., Leptographium sp., Ophiostomatoid
sp. etc.); viruses (RNA, DNA viruses)
• Insects (e.g. mosquitoes, lice, fleas, bed bugs etc. ) and ticks are
viruses (chikungunya virus, yellow fever, dengue fever, etc.),
bacteria (Lyme disease, plague, etc.),
parasites (malaria, sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, filariasis,

Native vs invasive pathogen
• Native vs invasive pathogen/insects:

• Native: maintain the current domain of species composition,

structure, processes and interactions favor the development of more
successionally advanced species

• Invasive: result in significant changes in species composition,

structure, and relationships, e.g. Phytopthora infestans, Ophiostoma

COST Action FP1401
A global network of nurseries as early warning system against alien tree pests
(Global Warning)


• managers of sentinel plantings

• botanical gardens or arboreta
• phytosanitary inspectors
• Others who may have knowledge of common pests and diseases of
woody plants, but may not know the likely cause of damage that they
have not encountered before.
Forest damages in Estonia (2016)
Damaged forest total: 3 640,9 ha, including
Windfall 2 103,7 ha
Game damages 872,6 ha
Root diseases 174,7 ha etc.

Heterobasidion spp.

Heterobasidion spp.
H. annosum (Fr.) Bref
H. parviporum Bref.
Heterobasidion spp.
Armillaria spp.
Armillaria spp.
Invasive pathogens and insects
• Conifer trees pathogens:
Diplodia sapinea
Ash dieback (Hymenosyphus pseudoalbidus)
Pitch canker disease (Gibberella circinata)
Needle blight (Mycosphaerella pini (anamorf Dothistroma
Needle cast (Cyclaneusma minus)
• Deciduous trees :
Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma novo-ulmi) - pathogen
Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) - insect
Pitch canker disease (Gibberella circinata)

• Ciesla, W.M., Donaubauer, E. 1994. Decline and dieback of trees and forests. A global overview. FAO Forestry paper, 120.
103 p.
• Dale et al. 2001. Climate Change and Forest Disturbances: Climate change can affect forests by altering the frequency,
intensity, duration, and timing of fire, drought, introduced species, insect and pathogen outbreaks, hurricanes,
windstorms, ice storms, or landslides. BioScience, 51 (9), 723-734.
• Frolking, S., Palace, M.W., Clark, D.B., Chambers, J.Q., Shugart, H.H., Hurtt, G.C. 2009. Forest disturbance and recovery: A
general review in the context of spaceborne remote sensing of impacts on aboveground biomass and canopy structure.
Journal of Geophysival Research, Biogeosciences, 114 (G2)
• Jaworski, T., Hilszczański, J. 2013. The effect of temperature and humidity changes on insects development their impact on
forest ecosystems in the expected climate change. Leśne Prace Badawcze (Forest Research Papers), 74(4), 345-355.
• White, P.S., Pickett, S.T.A. 1985. Natural disturbances and patch dynamics: an introduction. In: The ecology of natural
disturbance and patch dynamics. London: academic Press: 3-13.
• Wyka, S.A., Munck, I.A., Brazee, N.J., Broders, K.D. 2018. Response of eastern white pine and associated foliar, blister rust,
canker and root rot pathogens to climate change. Forest Ecology and Management, 423, 18-26.
Thank you for your attention!

It is not a question of whether disturbance will happen

but what kind, where, and when!