Presentation Title

Can the Weather Predict Seed Dispersal Events in the Dwarf Mistletoe Arceuthobium americanum?

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented Friday March 31, 2017

Abstract

Arceuthobium americanum, a North American species of dwarf mistletoe, is a flowering plant that is obligately parasitic on lodgepole pine trees. The seeds of A. americanum are dispersed through an explosive mechanism in which the rupture of mature fruit expels the seed from the parent plant. The dispersal phenomenon occurs in the early fall, while germination of the new dwarf mistletoe does not ensue until the following spring. Although their prolonged lifecycle does not allow for rapid forest infestations, dwarf mistletoe’s dependence on its host detrimentally affects forest productivity. Infections decrease the quality of host wood, weaken the immunity of the trees against other diseases, and ultimately shorten the lifespan of the trees. Furthermore, the branches of the trees infected by the dwarf mistletoe become dry and brittle, which poses a major forest fire hazard. Forestry industries suffer extensive losses due to the decreased wood quality resulting from dwarf mistletoe infections. Increasing our understanding of how the dwarf mistletoe disperse could give foresters insights into controlling these independently dispersing parasites. This study investigates whether there are any weather variables, such as temperature and humidity, associated with the seed dispersal mechanisms of lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe. The methodology involves correlating weather data with daily photographs and time lapse footage collected over the seed dispersal period. Preliminary results suggest that there may be a relationship between air temperature and seed dispersal.

Department

Biological Sciences

Faculty Advisor

Cynthia Ross Friedman

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Can the Weather Predict Seed Dispersal Events in the Dwarf Mistletoe Arceuthobium americanum?

Arceuthobium americanum, a North American species of dwarf mistletoe, is a flowering plant that is obligately parasitic on lodgepole pine trees. The seeds of A. americanum are dispersed through an explosive mechanism in which the rupture of mature fruit expels the seed from the parent plant. The dispersal phenomenon occurs in the early fall, while germination of the new dwarf mistletoe does not ensue until the following spring. Although their prolonged lifecycle does not allow for rapid forest infestations, dwarf mistletoe’s dependence on its host detrimentally affects forest productivity. Infections decrease the quality of host wood, weaken the immunity of the trees against other diseases, and ultimately shorten the lifespan of the trees. Furthermore, the branches of the trees infected by the dwarf mistletoe become dry and brittle, which poses a major forest fire hazard. Forestry industries suffer extensive losses due to the decreased wood quality resulting from dwarf mistletoe infections. Increasing our understanding of how the dwarf mistletoe disperse could give foresters insights into controlling these independently dispersing parasites. This study investigates whether there are any weather variables, such as temperature and humidity, associated with the seed dispersal mechanisms of lodgepole pine dwarf mistletoe. The methodology involves correlating weather data with daily photographs and time lapse footage collected over the seed dispersal period. Preliminary results suggest that there may be a relationship between air temperature and seed dispersal.