Title

Factors Influencing Asiatic Oak Weevil Interactions with Native Ecosystem Engineers Over Time

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Major

Biology

Date of Defense

6-11-2015

Graduate Advisor

Robert J. Marquis

Committee

Elizabeth Kellogg

Patricia Parker

Abstract

I sought to build a model to predict current and future abundance of Asiatic oak weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Cyrtepistomus castaneus) by using the relative abundance of leaf tying and leaf rolling caterpillars. The Asiatic oak weevil is an exotic species that has been observed inside leaf ties and leaf rolls made by native Lepidoptera caterpillars. Chapter one is a review of the known relationships between animal constructs and exotic species. Within this review I transition from natural structures, to animal architects, and to ecosystem engineers and how they have a population dynamic impact on the invasive species. I also discuss the mechanisms behind why the exotic species is using the construct, and the ecological implications for the engineer and the natural community. In chapter two I present the meta-data analysis I performed on the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project data that were collected over a period of 11 years. The focus of this analysis was to evaluate which variables are important for understanding the relationship between Asiatic oak weevils and leaf tying caterpillars and the relationships between Asiatic oak weevils and leaf rolling caterpillars. I found four main relationships. First, canopy counts from both types of shelter builders can be used to accurately predict Asiatic oak weevil abundance. The second finding was that if we are evaluating a region where the trees are mostly the same age then having understory and canopy counts from either group of shelter builders will increase the accuracy of predicting Asiatic oak weevils in that region. Third, clear cutting has a dramatic impact on the abundance of many species of insects including shelter building species and the Asiatic oak weevil. Finally, one can predict Asiatic oak weevil abundance two and three years into the future, based on the abundance of leaf rolling caterpillar.

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