iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Tree-ring-based reconstruction of larch budmoth outbreaks in the Central Italian Alps since 1774 CE

Riccardo Cerrato (1)   , Paolo Cherubini (2-3), Ulf Büntgen (2-4-5), Anna Coppola (1), Maria Cristina Salvatore (1-6), Carlo Baroni (1-6)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 12, Issue 3, Pages 289-296 (2019)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2533-012
Published: May 27, 2019 - Copyright © 2019 SISEF

Research Articles

The larch budmoth (Zeiraphera diniana Gn. - LBM) offers a unique example of cyclic fluctuations in insect populations. During regular LBM mass outbreaks, defoliation of European larch (Larix decidua Mill.) subalpine trees results in distinct ring-width reductions in the host trees. Although several observations, reconstructions and models suggest that LBM outbreaks travel from the southwest to the northeast along the Alpine arc, gaps in the underlying data still hamper our mechanistic understanding of the spatio-temporal system dynamics. Evidence of historical LBM outbreaks before 1964 is generally associated with uncertainty and is particularly scarce for the Central Italian Alps. Here, we introduce four new larch ring-width chronologies from Val di Sole in the Central Italian Alps and use time-series analyses and comparisons with non-host trees (Picea abies Karst.) to reconstruct LBM mass outbreaks. We identify distinct fingerprints of 15 spatially-synchronized LBM events that occurred between 1774 and 1964 CE. Our results are important for improving qualitative space-time models to simulate travelling wave dynamics of insect populations, and for correcting ring-width-based summer temperature reconstructions from this part of the Alpine arc.


European Larch, Insect Outbreaks, Larch Bud Moth, Tree-rings, Zeiraphera diniana Gn.

Authors’ address

Riccardo Cerrato 0000-0002-4192-8839
Anna Coppola
Maria Cristina Salvatore
Carlo Baroni 0000-0001-5905-4650
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, University of Pisa, Pisa (Italy)
Paolo Cherubini 0000-0002-9809-250X
Ulf Büntgen 0000-0002-3821-0818
WSL Swiss Federal Research Institute, Birmensdorf (Switzerland)
Paolo Cherubini 0000-0002-9809-250X
Department of Forest and Nature Conservation, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC (Canada)
Ulf Büntgen 0000-0002-3821-0818
Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (United Kingdom)
Ulf Büntgen 0000-0002-3821-0818
CzechGlobe and Department of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno (Czech Republic)
Maria Cristina Salvatore
Carlo Baroni 0000-0001-5905-4650
CNR-IGG, National Research Council - Institute of Geosciences and Earth Resources, Pisa (Italy)

Corresponding author



Cerrato R, Cherubini P, Büntgen U, Coppola A, Salvatore MC, Baroni C (2019). Tree-ring-based reconstruction of larch budmoth outbreaks in the Central Italian Alps since 1774 CE. iForest 12: 289-296. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2533-012

Academic Editor

Emanuele Lingua

Paper history

Received: Jun 23, 2017
Accepted: Apr 02, 2019

First online: May 27, 2019
Publication Date: Jun 30, 2019
Publication Time: 1.83 months

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