Epidemiology of Heterobasidion abietinum and Viscum album on silver fir (Abies alba) stands of the Pyrenees
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In the last two decades, stand decline and increased mortality has affected silver fir (Abies alba) forests in the Spanish Pyrenees. Simultaneously severe occurrences of the root rot fungus Heterobasidion annosum s.l. and of the mistletoe Viscum album have been reported. We aimed to improve the understanding
of the epidemiology of both pathogens in our region. All H. annosum isolates found on silver fir were typed as H. abietinum. H. abietinum was more frequently observed where cuttings had targeted fir trees rather than other species. H. abietinum fruiting bodies were observed in the most recently cut stumps. V. album was more abundant on more dominant fir trees, and in southern aspect stands. The number of V. album colonies in the stand correlated (R2 = 0.40) with silver fir mortality. Stands with a high level of V. album infection tended to have a smaller percentage of basal area in species other than silver fir, and they tended to be located on more south-facing slopes. H. abietinum was widespread in silver fir forests of the Pyrenees. Our data suggest that, in the Pyrenees, the observed H. abietinum incidence may represent a combination of both primary and secondary spread of the pathogen. Favouring mixed forests should be tested as a potential control method for V. album. The correlation between silver fir mortality and V. album infection warrants further study, as the observed tree mortality could have occurred due to other factors than V. album, such as drought damage.