The success of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) in North America is hypothesized to be due to both the lack of significant natural enemies permitting easy establishment and a population of trees that lack the ability to defend themselves, which allows populations to grow unchecked. Since its discovery in 2002, a number of studies have examined mortality factors of the insect in forests, but none have examined the role of natural enemies and other mortality agents in the urban forest. This is significant because it is in the urban forest where the emerald ash borer has had the most significant economic impacts. We studied populations in urban forests in three municipalities in Ontario, Canada, between 2010 and 2012 using life tables and stage-specific survivorship to analyze data from a split-rearing manipulative experiment. We found that there was little overall mortality caused by natural enemies; most mortality we did observe was caused by disease. Stage-specific survivorship was lowest in small and large larvae, supporting previous observations of high mortality in these two stages. We also used our data to test the hypothesis that mortality and density in emerald ash borer are linked. Our results support the prediction of a negative relationship between mortality and density. However, the relationship varies between insects developing in the crown and those in the trunk of the tree. This relationship was significant because when incorporated with previous findings, it suggests a mechanism and hypothesis to explain the outbreak dynamics of the emerald ash borer.
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Vol. 44 • No. 1