Highlights: Both native and introduced confer species in Sweden can be highly susceptible to damage by the pine weevil; Douglas fir and Sitka spruce were generally the most damaged among six studied conifer species; The results highlight some of the risks in establishing exotic tree species for forest production.
There is increasing interest in using introduced species in Swedish forestry in response to climate change, but it is important to assess their resistance to native pests. Thus, we compared the extent of pine weevil feeding on two dominant native conifers, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.), the non-host deciduous broadleaf hybrid aspen (Populus × wettsteinii Hämet-Ahti) and four introduced conifers: Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco), hybrid larch (Larix × marschlinsii Coaz), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carriére) and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon). The extent of feeding damage on seedlings and its effect on their vitality were examined in a field study in south-central Sweden and a laboratory experiment, which gave largely consistent results. Generally, the species most heavily attacked by the pine weevil, in both experiments, were Douglas fir and Sitka spruce. In the field experiment pine weevils killed or severely damaged significantly higher proportions of Douglas fir and Sitka spruce seedlings (60%) than any other species except Norway spruce (49%). Among conifer seedlings the proportions of killed or severely damaged seedlings were lowest for Scots pine and hybrid larch (27%) and Lodgepole pine (36%). The results indicate that most conifer species planted on young clear-cuttings in Sweden need some kind of pine weevil protection, and the possibility that introducing new tree species might increase damage caused by pests must be considered. For instance, widespread use of hybrid aspen could reduce damage by pine weevils, but increase damage by other, untested pests or pathogens.