Outbreak of Orthotomicus erosus (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) on aleppo pine in the Mediterranean region in Croatia / Milan Pernek, Nikola Lacković, Ivan Lukić, Nikola Zorić, Dinka Matošević.

Background and Purpose: Orthotomicus erosus, Mediterranean pine engraver, is widely distributed across the Mediterranean and southern Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is considered as secondary pest found on recently dead or felled trees, but can also attack weakened living trees. In high population levels this species can attack healthy trees and cause their dieback. Severe outbreaks occur after dry periods, or after fire in adjoining stands in warmer parts of the Mediterranean region, while this scenario has never happened in Croatia up to now. Bark beetles are important forest pests which have already been researched and discussed in relation to climate change, indicating that the predicted increase in temperature would lead to higher survival rates and faster development, thus directly influencing their population dynamics. Increase in temperature may stimulate changes in insects’ rate of development, voltinism, population density, size, genetic composition, extent of host plant exploitation, longitudinal and latitudinal distribution. Since climate conditions might have changed in the last few years as predicted in the Mediterranean region, the aim of our research is to document the first outbreak with high population levels of O. erosus in Croatia. Materials and Methods: The extent of dieback was evaluated by counting trees with dieback symptoms on diagonal transects plotted through each of 33 forest management sections of Marjan Forest Park (Split). Trunk sections from several trees with early stage symptoms were collected for further laboratory analysis, which consisted of incubation phase and subsequent morphological identification. During regular yearly surveys in forests of Croatia, the pest was observed on several sites and damages were recorded for both years 2017 and 2018. The records were entered into a map using QGIS version 3.2.1-Bonn. Spatial data was downloaded from DIVA-GIS server.