IUFRO Banff 2013: day 3

On the Wednesday morning we heard seven presentations on the effects of climate change on species such as spruce bark beetles, pine weevils, MPB and defoliators. Among them, Maartje Klapwijk of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences wove together Hungarian data from 1961 and showed an overlay of various moths to illuminate existing correlations.

Then we went on field trips. The hike up Sulphur Mountain had been canceled due to wet snow have higher elevations, and it was pouring rain at our level. Claire, Annerose and I chose the Tunnel Mountain excursion over Johnson Lake.

We couldn’t see much through the low clouds and rain, but the weather created a lovely inkscape through which we looked at two kinds of pine that are at risk there: white bark (P. albicaulis) and limber (P. flexilis)


Then an amazing thing happened. Just as Erica Samis (from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development), our stalwart guide was explaining how Clark’s nutcracker plays a role in caching white bark pine seeds, one flew onto a branch right behind her! I was afraid of what might happen if she uttered the word, “grizzly”!


At the end of the afternoon we attended a poster session – a very different, more informal way to share research, compared to the oral screen presentations.


At the conference banquet that evening, Jane Park of Parks Canada gave a screen presentation about the history of fire in Banff National Park. After about 100 years of fire suppression, they are now returning to something similar to the intentional fires First Nations used to start to create fresh pasture for ungulates, etc.


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IUFRO Banff 2013: day 2

Tuesday’s presentations were on trophic & effects of weather and & climate. For example, Adriana Arango-Velez from the University of Alberta discussed lodgepole & jack pine responses to a blue fungus associated with MPB under water deficit conditions, Ken Raffa of the University of Wisconsin-Madison talked about the detoxification of plant defense compounds by bacteria associated with various insects, and Crisia Tabacaru from the University of Alberta shared her findings on MPB in post burn lodgepole forests.

Barbara Bentz, a Research Entomologist in the Forest and Woodland Ecosystems Science Program (Rocky Mountain Research Station), talked about MPB “voltinism”, i.e. life cycles (to simplify the term) across different elevations & latitudes. Another fascinating day!


Around 3 pm Annerose, Claire and I each gave a screen presentation about our artwork and its relationship to MPB. Then after questions from delegates, we had an “opening” in our exhibition space across the hall.


We were very well received, and many commented on the variety of imagery & perspectives among us. It was really nice to chat with people one-on-one, and several were especially appreciative of the inclusion of our art in the conference.


Thanks to Margaret Inoue for FTPing our PDF screen presentations from Wells to Banff!
(I had left my memory stick in the computer at home 😮

Bill Horne

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IUFRO Banff 2013 day 1

After a long, beautiful drive down the icefields parkway, Annerose Georgeson, Claire Kujundzic and I arrived at the Banff Centre late Saturday night and unloaded our artwork. The staff were very helpful, bringing us ladders and vacuum cleaners when we needed them, but it took most of Sunday to install it. We are all very happy with how it looks.

Allan Carroll of UBC welcomes delegates.

Allan Carroll of UBC welcomes delegates.

Monday was a very full day. After welcoming remarks by Allan Carroll of UBC and Bill Riel of Canadian Forest Service, Daniel Lux, Senior Manager of Alberta’s Forest Health Section, gave a livel, candid keynote address on recent mountain pine beetle history on this side if the Rockies.

Iñaki Extebeste gives his presentation.

Iñaki Extebeste gives his presentation.

Then we heard 17 fascinating presentations of research on various aspects the conference theme, Forest Insect Disturbance in a Warming Environment. There are 60 scientists here from around the world; some are presenting post graduate research. A very full day!

Jim Labonte of Oregon's Dept of Agriculture shares his exquisite extreme depth of field photographs of insects.

Jim Labonte of Oregon’s Dept of Agriculture shares his exquisite extreme depth of field photographs of insects.

After the sessions we met up with Ed Bamiling who heads the ceramics department at the Banff Centre. It was lovely to reconnect after many years, and to visit his studio.

Claire, Ed & Bill in Ed's studio.

Claire, Ed & Bill in Ed’s studio.

More to follow…

Bill Horne

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On Wednesday Laszlo dropped us at the train to Munich where we stayed at the hostel again before our flight to Vancouver the next afternoon. He had made bread for our trip and loaded us up with grapes, peppers and tomatoes from his garden, so it was a very pleasant trip, apart from delays.

Laszlo's home grown grapes

Contrary to the system at Vancouver’s airport, in Munich one must check in at the airline and get boarding passes and baggage tags before going to customs with a Carnet! So we ended up lining up twice 😮 However, no one lost our luggage and we didn’t have any hassles with customs re-entering Canada with the artwork this time. It was a great trip, but good to be home!

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On Sunday we walked around Budapest for most of the day and had lunch downtown. The restaurant had a WiFi signal and we were able to run Skype through an iPod so Laszlo could talk to Claire’s sister Natanis in Victoria, BC.

Claire sets up the call

Laszlo & Claire, Danube River, Parliament buildings

In the evening we went to an epic opera in a grand old theatre downtown. It wove together the story of a group of Jews being rounded up in Budapest in WWII, the biblical story of Esther and present time elements, with segments of Klezmer music, song and dance.

Music college with Listz façade

The next day we explored more of Budapest on foot and watched a rehearsal of traditional and contemporary Hungarian dance with live musicians. They were excellent and though we couldn’t attend their final performance, we found a DVD of similar work.

Dance rehearsal

On Tuesday the three of us cycled to Laszlo’s other garden plot farther south on Csepel Island. In the evening we went to a wine cellar pub downtown to hear some music. Three people played violin, one accordion, a clarinet, stand up bass, and cimbalon – all playing triple time, perfectly synchronized! The place was packed with young women university students, most of whom sang along with great gusto. It was really fun.

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We had heard that there were trains from Sopron to Budapest at 9 and 10 a.m. It took quite a while to pack everything up Saturday morning, so we were a bit behind and ran down the street as fast as we could with our suitcases to make the train at 10. We bought our tickets, then ran out to the platform, only to be told that the Budapest train was coming on the other side, so we had to run down the stairs and back up the other stairs with our gear.

After heaving everything into a train car, we looked around and wondered…where is everyone? A kind elderly gentleman went back to the ticket booth with Claire and found out that in fact there wasn’t a train to Budapest until 1 pm, unless we wanted to go to the bus depot and catch a bus to Győr, then train to Budapest. But that would only save about 10 minutes. So we pulled everything off the train and waited back in the station where there was a WiFi signal.

Bill uses Alan Zisman's netbook at Sopron's train station

I worked on my conference notes while Claire drew cartoon postcards of us, like this one:

cartoon © Claire Kujundzic

I looked up from my typing to see Ferenc Lakatos, the conference organizer, standing in front of me. It was nice to see him – he and his son Richard were there to meet his dad. But then Ferenc asked if we had seat tickets. No, we just had tickets to Budapest. Hmm.

He explained that we could have problems on the train without them and accompanied me back to the ticket booth. I bought two seat tickets for 360 Forints (about $2 Cdn). Not sure why these aren’t sold with the main tickets as one unit, but we were very grateful to Ferenc!

We had a very pleasant trip east on the GYSEV train, which has WiFi. Laszlo met us at the Budapest Keleti (east) station, and took us back to his place in Csepel, on the island in the Danube.

Claire & Laszlo at Budapest Keleti station

He drove the long way so we could see some of the sights, and made a fabulous dish with homemade dumplings for us.

Laszlo's home cooking

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Sopron conference day 3

On Friday, the presentations continued on species such as Polygraphus grandiclava (on pine and cherry!), Ips typopgraphus, Dendroctonus micans, Abies sibirica, Monchamus urussovi, Anoplophora glabripennis, Leptographium sibirica, Polygraphus proximus, Dendroctonus valens, and a few natural predators.

Bill Riel of the Canadian Forest Service (Victoria, BC) shared data on the MPB’s incursion into Jack pines in northern Alberta and how this could affect woodland caribou habitat. Anton Kovalev (International Center for Study of Extreme States of Organisms, Krasnoyarsk, Russia) presented his new calculus equations to model tree resistance with more accuracy. He also measured dielectric properties of tree tissues as an indicator of a tree’s physiological state.

Hisashi Kajimura from Nagoya University in Japan, discussed the latex defenses of fig trees in response to the novel threat of ambrosia beetles which have spread through Japan over the last 10 years. Larry Kirkendall showed some gorgeous photos of ambrosia beetles in Chile that are affecting Beeches there; very cool galleries!

Hisashi Kajimura, Nagoya University, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Forest Protection Lab, Nagoya, Japan

Jon Sweeney of the Canadian Forest Service (Fredericton, NB) talked about the effects of host tree stress on foraging of Tetropium spp., and Krista Ryall of the Canadian Forest Service (Victoria, BC) presented her findings on a volatile sex pheromone in emerald ash borers that have killed millions of trees in Canada and the US. Apparently it is very hard to detect early infestation, as the trees are asymptomatic for up to 4 years.

Finally, Keith Douce (Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health, University of Georgia) gave a summary of the resources available at bugwood.org, an image bank of invasive species, forestry images, insects and weeds with 1.3M records. Bugwood’s IT systems are fully integrated and can connect to databases; there are more than 145,000 images and 15,000 subjects. The site issues creative commons licenses through its Wiki system for the html, pdf and image files users can access. There’s even a mobile app for iPhone that plugs into an alert system. Very cool.

The Bugwood site

After Ferenc’s closing remarks, it was time for us to take down Claire’s artwork & repack it. Larry Kirkendall helped out and when we were done, we went back to Erhardt for supper with him and Torild Wardenær. It was a lovely way to end the week.

Bill & Larry, ready to wrap Claire's exhibit

Supper out; Ferenc Lakatos photo

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Sopron conference field trip

Les Safranyik (Victoria, BC), Choi Won Il (Seoul) & Claire with other delegates on the park trail

With the rest of the delegates we were taken by bus on September 8 to the Irottkö park area on the Hungarian-Austrian border, northwest of Szombathely. After the previous day of sitting indoors, it was refreshing to walk below the spruce. There were places where we could observe some bark beetle damage in the park, which was interesting. From the top of the Irottkö tower on the border we saw where there used to be a clear cut swath during the cold war era, and it was a perfect site for a group photo.

Sopron IUFRO conference delegates at Irottkö tower

At the base of a dead larch tree, Sarah Smith of the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University found a big, beautiful predatory beetle! I think it’s Carabus intricatus.

A swarm of entomologists examine a dead Larch tree

Sarah Smith holds a very lively Carabus intricatus

Anthony Cognato & Sarah Smith from the Department of Entomology, Michigan State University show Claire their cool shirts at lunch!

After a hearty Hungarian lunch in a restaurant, we visited an amazing nature centre in Sarród called the Kócsagvár or Egret Castle, with thatched roofs and a design influenced by the form of egret feathers. What a gorgeous structure.

Conference organizer Ferenc Lakatos briefs delegates at the Egret Castle nature centre

Inside the nature centre

The Fertő-Hanság National Park connects Austria’s Neusiedler See National Park and Hungary’s Lake Fertő, which is the third largest lake in Central-Europe. Here we walked along a canal on the edge of a fine bird watching area.

Good bird watching here

Shannon Smith (Biology Department, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW, Australia) checks out the canal

Our last stop was at the site of the Pan-European picnicwhich took place in 1989 and led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. A rather emotional place for the Hungarians and other East Europeans.

Display at the site of the Pan-European Picnic

Granite sculpture at Pan-European Picnic site

After we got back to Sopron, everyone met for supper at Erhardt restaurant. Wow.

Supper at Erhardt; can you find Bill & Claire? (Ferenc Lakatos photo)

University tour bus

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Sopron conference day 1

Eckehard Brockerhoff (New Zealand Forest Research Institute, Rotorua, NZ) and Ferenc Lakatos (University of Western Hungary, Sopron) opened the bark beetle conference on behalf of IUFRO on Wednesday morning. The 75 delegates came from Greece, Canada, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Algeria, USA, Italy, Belgium, Slovakia, France, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Croatia, Australia, Germany, Wales, and South Korea. Sadly, the US Forest Service had no funds to send delegates.

Ferenc, the main conference organizer, gave an overview of the current situation in Hungary. Their forests are dominated by deciduous species like oaks and beech; there are Scolytidae beetles such as S multistriatus, Xyleborus spp, and Platypus cylindrus.

Eckehard Brockerhoff & Ferenc Lakatos welcome delegates

Due to invasions, rising temperatures and decreasing precipitation, conifers have been affected in every forest in Hungary. Norway spruce gone from 27% to 13% since 1974. Beech distribution has been shrinking dramatically, and the composition and distribution of tree species has a big impact on bug diversity.

One of the most interesting things we learned at this conference was how much windstorms and drought can create ideal conditions for a bark beetle outbreak. For example, Hervé Jactel gave a presentation about what happened after Cyclone Klaus hit France in January, 2009 and affected 70% of their forests: there was a masssive outbreak of Ips sexdentatus the next year.

On a coffee break, Les Safranyik explained to us how he and other researchers realized why a large tract of conifers near the Cariboo Mountains in BC had died. A powerful wind storm had rocked the trees, not enough to knock them over, but the movement destroyed the fine roots. The trees were then more vulnerable to beetle attack.

Allan Carroll of UBC gave an interesting and somewhat disturbing presentation on Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) range expansion into northern Alberta. Whereas Lodgepole has been the primary host, it’s now starting to show up in Jack pine hybrids and Jack pines, with a projected mortality of 67% by 2020.

According to Allan, there was three times as much susceptible pine at the start of our most recent outbreak compared to a severe infestation in 1910, mainly because of fire suppression and also some selective harvesting. With the 1-2 degrees increase in mean annual temperatures since 1950, we have had a 75% increase in suitable conditions for MPB. A third of the outbreak is located beyond previous cold limitation line.

Allan predicts that lodgepole pines “with experience” will have more effective defenses than “naive” pines like the jack pines and hybrid species.

We also heard presentations on the engraver beetle in Italy’s Dolomites, spruce bark beetles (SBB), ambrosia beetles in Korea, bark beetles and long horned & borer beetles affecting wood packaging and palettes in container ships, bark beetles in Sitka spruce in Wales, and pheromone traps.

Bjørn Økland of Norway discussed the possibility of new pests entering Eurasian forests, such as the bronze birch borer, MPB (if it got into Scots pine in northern Europe, 42% of trees could be vulnerable), SBB, pinewood nematode and emerald ash borer.

Ours was the last presentation of the day – a mix of photos from the Cariboo-Chilcotin and Claire’s paintings – and it was very well received 😉

Introducing our screen presentation; Ferenc Lakatos photo


Coralie Bertheau (Vienna) & Peter Biedermann (Bern) look at Claire's trees during a coffee break.






Just before supper, everyone was invited to what was supposedly a special organizing meeting, but actually a ruse to present Les (Laszlo) Safranyik The George Varley Award for Achievement in Forest Insect Ecology. Les, a Soproni-UBC graduate, is recently retired from the Canadian Forest Service and features prominently in Andrew Nikiforuk’s “Empire of the Beetle” along with Allan Carroll, who gave the tribute. All the delegates were there and gave Les a standing ovation.

Jean-Clauge Grégoire (Belgium), Allan Carroll (UBC), Les Safranyik (Victoria, BC), Eckehard Brockerhoff (NZ); Ferenc Lakatos photo

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Around Sopron

On Tuesday we spent a few hours  photographing the exhibit and ensuring all the work was labeled.

Claire’s trees and “forest carpets”, conference level, Pannonia Hotel, Sopron

We needed some extra mat board, so we took a stroll around Sopron and found an art supply store near the university. The owner was very friendly and has traveled around Europe and Latin America painting large murals. He introduced us to another artist who was visiting the shop in between teaching classes. It can’t be easy making a living from a small store in a small city like Sopron.

Art supply store, Sopron

We went to a grocery store and the staff tried to explain how to buy fresh vegetables: certain peppers require a sticker before weighing; other, apples and cucumbers were wonderful, and it turns out that the region is known for a heritage grape & wine called Kékfrancos, i.e. blue Frankish. There was nice Hungarian cheese, too, and bakeries every block or two. We felt ready for the conference!

Sopron neighbourhood

Downtown Sopron

Registration began before supper time and was followed by a social event on the hotel’s top floor patio. It was a beautiful evening to meet some of the 74 delegates from 25 countries, such as Larry Kirkendall from Bergen (formerly US) and his friend Torild Wardenær who is a Norwegian poet and playwright, and Frederick Schlyter from Sweden. Frederick is the thesis supervisor for a PhD student from Victoria, BC, who happened to visit our gallery in August after a Bowron lakes trip 😮

For a summary of the interesting relationship between UBC in Vancouver and the University of Western Hungary in Sopron dating back to the Hungarian revolution in 1956, see http://tinyurl.com/3txm62t and http://tinyurl.com/3f8jr7c

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