Influence of Insect Herbivory on the Decline of Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens)
C. StoneAC and P. E. BaconB
A Research Division, State Forests of NSW, PO Box 100, Beecroft, NSW 21 19, Australia.
B Woodlots and Wetlands Pty Ltd, 67 David Rd, Castle Hill, NSW 2154, Australia.
C Corresponding Author.
The contribution of insect herbivory to the canopy decline of Eucalyptus largiforens F.Muell. (black box) was assessed on nine irrigated properties around Deniliquin in southern central New South Wales. Fully expanded leaves less than 1 year old were sampled from 36 mature trees in June 1993 and again in June 1994 after half the trees had been treated with a systemic insecticide in November 1993. Insect herbivory in treated trees fell significantly from 27 to 9%. It also fell, but to a lesser extent (28-19%, P < 0.05), in the untreated trees. The fall in insect herbivory in control trees corresponded to a decrease in rainfall in 1994 when the rainfall was 50% of that for 1993. There was a significant linear relationship between insect herbivory and trunk diameter increment in the untreated trees. There was no consistent relationship between insect herbivory and the visual assessment of crown condition. Although E. largiforens is described as having both narrow adult and juvenile foliage, adjacent trees in this study differed significantly in their leaf length : breadth ratios. Canopies with a dominance of broader foliage had significantly higher levels of herbivory. Individual trees tended to replace foliage with leaves of similar morphology. It is suggested that this variation in leaf shape may be genetic rather than environmental. If so, landholders could select for trees with narrower foliage which may result in reduced impact of insect herbivory.