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Title: What do cocktail parties and stressed trees have in common? Plenty of alcohol!

Author: Kirkland, John; Kelsey, Rick;

Date: 2015

Source: Science Findings 173. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.

Publication Series: Science Findings

Description: Stress in trees is caused by disturbances such as fire, flood, disease, or insect infestations. A single stressor may not be enough to kill a tree, but a combination can be deadly.

Tree tissues produce and accumulate ethanol in response to many stressors. Ethanol provides the stressed tissues with an emergency energy source when their normal source of energy from aerobic respiration is impaired by stressors. Many insects, including various bark and ambrosia beetles, can detect ethanol. If the stressed tree releases enough ethanol into the atmosphere, it serves as a signal, attracting the beetles and stimulating an attack.

Rick Kelsey, a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, has spent his career studying the interplay between tree stress and ethanol production. His findings reveal the key role that ethanol plays in tree stress physiology and disturbance ecology.

Most recently, he and colleagues in Spain found that severely droughtstressed pine attacked by bark beetles contained more ethanol than their unattacked neighbors.

Knowing the connections among stress, ethanol production, and insect host-tree selection may eventually help foresters identify stressed trees that are vulnerable to insect attack and develop remedial measures to help the trees survive.

Keywords: ethanol, scolytid beetle, drought, fire, pathogen, stress, Rick Kelsey.

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
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Citation:


Kirkland, John; Kelsey, Rick. 2015. What do cocktail parties and stressed trees have in common? Plenty of alcohol! Science Findings 173. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 6 p.

 


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