Effectiveness of rapid 'ōhi'a death management strategies at a focal disease outbreak on Hawai'i Island

Roy, Kylle
Granthon, Carolina
Peck, Robert W.
Atkinson, Carter T.
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The ongoing spread of rapid ‘ōhi‘a death (ROD) in the Hawaiian Islands threatens the long-term sustainability of ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) forests throughout the state. First identified in the Puna district of Hawai‘i Island in 2014, the disease caused by the novel fungi Ceratocystis lukuohia and Ceratocystis huliohia has now spread island-wide and was recently detected on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, and Maui. The leading hypothesis for the spread of ROD is through airborne ambrosia beetle frass particles that contain viable Ceratocystis propagules, thus management efforts focus on containing this frass. At the time of this study (2017–2018), the Waipunalei site was the northernmost outbreak of ROD on Hawai‘i Island. The focal nature of the outbreak and accessibility of the location provided the opportunity to monitor the effectiveness of two types of proposed management methods to reduce the airborne spread of potentially infective ambrosia beetle frass: tree felling and insecticide treatments. We placed 23 passive environmental samplers (PES), which monitored for airborne frass and wood particles containing C. lukuohia and C. huliohia in a grid that spanned the outbreak area over 22 weeks. Cross-vane panel traps with 1:1 methanol:ethanol lures were attached to nine of the PES to document wood-boring ambrosia and cerambycid beetle populations during the latter three months of the study. Monitoring with PES began three weeks before management and continued for one month after the last infected trees were felled. Glass microscope slides from the 23 PES were examined for airborne ambrosia beetle frass and wood particles by microscopy. DNA was extracted from the slides and tested by qPCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction) for C. lukuohia and C. huliohia. We also investigated the correlation of beetle gallery counts with tree height and tested the efficacy of Bifen I/T insecticide (active ingredient: bifenthrin 7.9%) for preventing beetle attacks on the cut surface of ‘ōhi‘a bolts (tree stem sections). Beetle trapping data revealed that the area supports a diverse community of wood-boring beetles, some of which likely attack ‘ōhi‘a and may facilitate the spread of ROD. The number of beetle galleries on felled ‘ōhi‘a trees decreased linearly as tree height increased. We also observed significantly fewer beetle attacks on Bifen I/T treated ‘ōhi‘a bolts than non-treated bolts, but gallery formation nearly ceased in both treated and control bolts by week three. Ceratocystis lukuohia DNA was detected twenty-six times and C. huliohia was detected five times in the PES throughout this study. DNA detections were correlated to frass and wood counts, and the number of felled trees were correlated to wood particle counts but not frass counts. Both the timing and distribution of detections across the sampling grid indicate that tree felling may have reduced airborne detections of Ceratocystis DNA soon after tree felling was completed. A subsequent increase in detections after tree felling ceased may indicate that incomplete removal of infected trees and the appearance of new infections in previously asymptomatic trees could have allowed airborne detections of potentially infectious fungal propagules to once again increase.
Technical report pdf with figures and tables.
Ohia lehua, rapid ohia death, fungal disease, Hawaii Island
29 pages
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