Growth of coyote willow and the attack and survival of a mid-rib galling sawfly, Euura sp

John O. Woods, Timothy G. Carr, Peter W. Price, Laurence E. Stevens, Neil S. Cobb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We studied the relationship between variation in age and shoot characteristics of the host plant Salix exigua Nuttall (coyote or sandbar willow) and the attack and survival of Euura sp. (an unnamed leaf-midrib galling sawfly). Variation in shoot characteristics resulted from reduced growth as willow ramets aged. Mean shoot length per ramet and mean longest leaf length per shoot decreased by 95% and 50% respectively between 1- and 9-year-old willow ramets. All measured shoot characteristics - shoot length, longest leaf length, number of leaves per shoot, and mean internode length - were significantly negatively correlated with ramet age (r2 ranged from -0.23 to -0.41). Correlations between shoot characteristics were highly positive, indicating that plants also grew in a strongly integrated fashion (r2 ranged from 0.54 to 0.85). Four hypotheses were examined to explain sawfly attack patterns. The host-plant hypothesis was supported in explaining enhanced larval sawfly survival through reduced plant resistance. As willow ramets aged, the probability of Euura sp. attack decreased over 10-fold, from 0.315 on 1-year-old ramets to 0.024 on 2- to 9-year-old ramets. As shoot length increased, the probability of sawfly attack increased over 100-fold, from 0.007 on shoots <100 mm, to 0.800 on shoots in the 1001-1100 mm shoot length class. These attack patterns occurred even though 1-year-old ramets and shoots >500 mm each represented less than 2% of the total shoots available for oviposition. Host plant induced mortality of the egg/early instar stage decreased by 50% on longer leaves and was the most important factor determining survival differences between vigorous and non-vigorous hosts. Sawfly attack was not determined by the resource distribution hypothesis. Although shoots <200 mm contained 82% of the total leaves available, they contained only 43% of the galls initiated. The attack pattern also was not explained by the gall volume hypothesis. Although gall volume increased on longer shoots, there was no significant variation in mid or late instar mortality over shoot length, as would be expected if food resources within smaller galls were limited. The natural enemy attack hypothesis could not explain the pattern of oviposition since predation was greater on longer shoots and leaves. In addition, larval survival was related to oviposition behavior. Due to a 69% reduction in late instar death and an 83% reduction in parasitism, survival of progeny in galls initiated close to the petiole base was 2.8 times greater than in galls initiated near the leaf tip. A 75% reduction in gall volume over this range of gall positions may account for the observed increases in late instar mortality and parasitism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)714-722
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Euura
  • Host plant variation
  • Oviposition behavior
  • Plant/insect interactions
  • Salix exigua

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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