The impact of the recent rapid increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration on the growth of plants has been intensively studied from many biological and ecological aspects. Besides other features, the change in CO2 concentration alter the nutritional quality in leaf tissues used as food by insects. Up to now, the insect performance and interaction with host plant have been studied using only few forest pest species and it seems that many species react differently on the altered nutritional value.
Spruce sawflies are among the most serious spruce defoliating pests. The effect of altered needle quality caused by the elevated CO2 on larval performance, however, remains virtually unknown.
A study on the interaction of Norway spruce and sawflies under simulated conditions of the climate change has been carried out in cooperation with Global Change Research Institute CAS (CzechGlobe). Larvae of spruce sawflies were introduced to young experimental spruce forest growing under controlled CO2 conditions at the Experimental ecological station Bílý Kříž, the Beskydy Mts. The larvae were kept in special small net bags and all the manipulations with them was very delicate and precise. The whole experiment lasted several months meaning good logistics of the whole team in regular check periods.
Data on larval performance as well as spruce response on larval feeding was collected in two vegetation seasons in 2019 and 2020. Data is now processed, and preliminary results show very interesting patterns in the studied system promising successful publication in top journals.
The partnership with CzechGlobe is mutually beneficial and both institutions want to continue further cooperation.