Diana Six

Photo of Six, Diana

Diana Six

Professor of Forest Entomology/Pathology

Personal Summary

My primary research focuses on the evolution and maintenance of symbioses particularly those occurring among bark beetles, ambrosia beetles and fungi. I have always believed it is the small things that run the world. Work in my lab highlights the influence microfungi have on greater ecosystem processes via differential effects on their host insects. We also conduct research on various aspects of bark beetle ecology and management, including investigations into how bark beetles may affect the ability of forests to adapt to climate change.

In addition to my position at the University of Montana, I am Extraordinary Professor of Ecology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and am a proud member and fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. I feel particularly honored to have recently received the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award for pioneering research in bark beetle ecology and climate adaptation of forests.


A.S. Microbiology: 1986, Chaffey College, Alta Loma, CA, High Honors
B.S. Agricultural Biology (IPM): 1990, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Magna cum laude
M.S. Entomology: 1992, University of California, Riverside
Ph.D. Entomology: 1997, University of California, Riverside Minor: Mycology
Postdoctoral Researcher: 1997. University of California, Berkeley, Chemical Ecology

Research Interests

Lab Image Cloud

Visit the Six Lab – see what we are doing right now!

Click on the link to see what we are up to these days in research.

I am also highly committed to science communication. As part of this, I am pursuing a MA degree in the Natural Resource and Environmental Journalism Program at UM and blog and tweet science. Watch my TEDx talk. Check out coverage of our work in National GeographicMother JonesYale Environment 360New York Times, and the Missoulian. We have also been featured in the book Empire of the Beetle, the book Trees in Trouble, Years of Living Dangerously (episode 2) and David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things -The Beetles are Coming (CBC).


I am an avid fly fisher and fly tier. I garden, sew, paint, and like making everything I can from scratch (yes I know how to make kimchi, beer, and tan a deer’s hide with its own brain). I LOVE to hike, backpack, cross country ski, and just about anything outdoors that respects nature and the land. I am currently writing a book and hoping it moves beyond a hobby to a reality!

Selected Publications

Book chapters:

Six, D.L. 2003. Bark Beetle-Fungus Symbioses. Pp. 99-116. In: Insect Symbiosis. Eds. K. Bourtzis and T. A Miller. CRC Press.

Six, D.L. 2005. Population genetics of bark beetles and their associated blue-stain fungi with the use or molecular markers. In: Forest Pathology: From Genes to Landscapes. J.E. Lundquist, R.C. Hamelin, and C. Aquirre-Bravo, eds. American Phytopathological Society Press.

Six, D.L. and R. Bracewell. 2015. Dendroctonus. In: Bark Beetles: Biology and Ecology of Native and Invasive Species. F.E. Vega and R. W. Hofstetter (eds.). pp. 305-323.

Peer-reviewed publications:

Six, D. L. and B. A. Mullens. 1996. Seasonal prevalence of Entomophthora muscae and introduction of Entomophthora schizophorae (Zygomycotina: Entomophthorales) in Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae) populations on California dairies. Biological Control 6: 315-323.

Six, D. L. and B. A. Mullens. 1996. Distance of conidial discharge of Entomophthora muscae and E. schizophorae conidia. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 67: 253-258.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1996. Leptographium pyrinum is a mycangial fungus of Dendroctonus adjunctus. Mycologia 88: 739-744.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1996. A technique for the introduction of fungi to bark beetle mycangia. Journal of Entomological Science 31: 466-468.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1997. Ophiostoma clavigerum is the mycangial fungus of the Jeffrey pine beetle, Dendroctonus jeffreyi (Coleoptera: Scolytidae). Mycologia 89: 858-866.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1998. The effects of mycangial fungi on development and emergence of Dendroctonus ponderosae and D. jeffreyi. Environmental Entomology. 27: 1393-1401.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1999. Phylogenetic comparison of the ascomycetes associated with the mycangia of Dendroctonus bark beetles. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 92: 159-166.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1999. Allozyme diversity and gene flow in the bark beetle, Dendroctonus jeffreyi (Coleoptera: Scolytidae). Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 29: 315-323.

Six, D. L. and T. D. Paine. 1999. Allozyme diversity and gene flow in Ophiostoma clavigerum (Ophiostomatales: Ophiostomataceae), the mycangial fungus of the Jeffrey pine beetle, Dendroctonus jeffreyi (Coleoptera: Scolytidae). Canadian Journal of Forest Research 29: 324-331.

Six, D. L., P. Alaback, R. A. Winfree, D. Snyder, and A. Hagele. 2000. Pros and cons of using wilderness areas for biological research. Proceedings of the Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Conference. Missoula, MT. May 23-27, 1999.

Six, D.L., M. Vander Meer, T. H. DeLuca, and P. Kolb. 2002. Pine engraver, Ips pini (Say), colonization of logging residues created using alternative slash management systems in western Montana. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 17: 96-100.

Powell, H. D. W., S. Hejl, and D. L. Six. 2002. Measuring woodpecker food: a simple method for comparing wood-boring beetle abundance among fire-killed trees. J. Field Ornithol. 73: 130-140.

Six, D.L. 2003. A comparison of mycangial and phoretic fungi of individual mountain pine beetles. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 33: 1331-1334.

Six, D.L. and B.J. Bentz. 2003. The fungi associated with the North American Spruce Beetle, Dendroctonus rufipennis. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 33: 1815-1820.

Six, D.L., T.C. Harrington, J. Steimel, D. McNew, and T.D. Paine. 2003. Genetic relationships among Leptographium terebrantis and the mycangial fungi of three western Dendroctonus bark beetles. Mycologia 95: 781-792.

Dahlsten, D.L., D.L. Six, N. Erbilgen, K.F. Raffa, A.B. Lawson, and D.L. Rowney. 2003. Attraction of Ips pini (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) and its predators to various enantiomeric ratios of ipsdienol and lanierone in California: implications for the augmentation and conservation of natural enemies. Environmental Entomology 32: 1115-1122.

Six, D.L. and K. D. Klepzig. 2004. Dendroctonus bark beetles as model systems for the study of symbiosis. Symbiosis 37: 207-232.

Klepzig, K.D. and D.L. Six. 2004. Bark beetle fungal symbioses: Context dependency in complex associations. Symbiosis 37: 189-206.

Shelley, R.M. and D.L. Six. 2004. Discovery of the centipede, Scolopocrytops gracilis Wood, in Montana (Scolopendromorpha: Scolopocryptopidae). Western North American Naturalist 64: 257-258.

Dahlsten, D.L., D.L. Six, D.L. Rowney, A.B. Lawson, N. Erbilgin, and K.F. Raffa. 2004. Attraction of Ips pini (Coleoptera: Scolytidae) and its predators to natural attractants and synthetic semiochemicals: Implications for population monitoring in Northern California. Environmental Entomology. 33: 1554-1561.

Waring, K. M. and D.L. Six. 2005. Distribution of bark beetle attacks following whitebark pine restoration treatments. Western Journal of Applied Forestry. 20: 110-116.

Six, D.L. and M. Newcomb. 2005. A rapid method for rating white pine blister rust incidence, severity, and distribution within individual trees in whitebark pine. Northwest Science 79: 189-195.

Mueller, U., N. Gerardo, D. Aanen, D. L. Six, and T. Schultz. 2005. The evolution of agriculture in insects. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 36: 563-595.

Six, D.L., Z.W. de Beer, R.A. Beaver, L. Visser, and M.J. Wingfield. 2005. Exotic invasive elm beetle, Scolytus kirschii, detected in South Africa. South African Journal of Science. 101: 229-232.

Jensen, J. and D. L. Six. 2006. Myrmecochory of the exotic plant, Centaurea maculosa (spotted knapweed), in western Montana: a potential mechanism enhancing invasiveness. Environmental Entomology 35: 326-331.

Bentz, B.J. and D.L. Six. 2006. Ergosterol content of three fungal species associated with Dendroctonus ponderosae and D. rufipennis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 99: 189-194.

Ortega, Y.K., K. S. McKelvey and D. L. Six. 2006. Invasion of an exotic forb impacts reproductive success and site fidelity of a migratory songbird. Oecologia 149: 340-351.

Adams, A.S. and D.L. Six. 2006. Temporal variation in mycophagy and prevalence of fungi associated with developmental stages of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae). Environmental Entomology 36: 64-72.

Yen, T., D.L. Six, and E. Burke. 2006. A rapid culture-independent direct molecular method for detection of Phellinus pini from wood of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta). Forest Products Journal 56: 107-110.

Six, D.L. and B.J. Bentz. 2007. Temperature determines symbiont abundance in a multipartite bark beetle-fungus ectosymbiosis. Microbial Ecology 54: 112-118.

Six, D.L. and J. C. Adams. 2007. Relationships between white pine blister rust and the selection of individual whitebark pine by the mountain pine beetle. Journal of Entomological Science 42: 345-353.

Lee, S., Breuil, C. Hamelin, R. and D.L. Six. 2007. Genetic diversity and the presence of two distinct groups in Ophiostoma clavigerum associated with the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae in British Columbia and the northern Rocky Mountains. Phytopathology 97: 1177-1185.

Bleiker, K. and D.L. Six. 2007. Dietary benefits of fungal associates to an eruptive herbivore: potential implications of multiple associates on host population dynamics. Environmental Entomology 36: 1384-1396.

Adams, A.S. and D.L. Six. 2008. Detection of host habitat by parasitoids using cues associated with mycangial fungi of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae. The Canadian Entomologist 140: 124-127.

Boone, C.K., D.L. Six, Y. Zheng, and K. F. Raffa. 2008. Parasitoids and dipteran predators exploit volatiles from microbial symbionts to locate bark beetles. Environmental Entomology 37: 150-161.

Boone, C.K., D. L. Six, and K. F. Raffa. 2008. The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy: competitors add to predator load of primary bark beetles. Agricultural and Forest Management 10:411-421.

Adams, A.S., D.L. Six, S. Adams, and W. Holben. 2008. In vitro interactions between yeasts and bacteria and the fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae. Microbial Ecology 56: 460-466.

Bleiker, K. and D.L. Six. 2008. Effects of water potential and solute on growth and interactions of two fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle. Mycological Research 113:3-15.

Bleiker, K. and D.L. Six. 2008. Competition and coexistence in a multi-partner mutualism: Interactions between two fungal symbionts of the mountain pine beetle in beetle-attacked trees. Microbial Ecology 57: 191-202.

Six, D.L., W. D. Stone., Z. W. de beer, S.W. Woolfolk, 2009. Ambrosiella beaveri, sp. nov., associated with and exotic ambrosia beetle, Xylosandrus mutilatus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) in Mississippi, USA. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 96:17-29.

Six, D.L. and K. Skov. 2009. Response of bark beetles and their natural enemies to fire and fire surrogate treatments in mixed-conifer forests in western Montana. Forest Ecology and Management 258: 761-772.

Boone, C. K., D.L. Six, and K. Raffa. 2009. Assemblage of Hymenoptera arriving at logs colonized by Ips pini (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) and its microbial symbionts in westrrn Montana. Canadian Entomologist 141: 172-199.

Raffa, K.F., B. Aukema, B.J. Bentz, A. Carroll, N. Erbilgin, D.A. Herms, J. A. Hicke., R. W. Hofstetter, S. Katovich, B. S. Lindgren, J. Logan, W. Mattson, A. S. Munson, D. J. Robison, D. L. Six, P. C. Tobin, P. A. Townsend, and K. F. Wallin. 2009. A literal use of “forest health” safeguards against misuse and misapplication. Journal of Forestry 107: 276-278.

Bleiker, K.P. S.E. Potter, C.R. Lauzon and D.L. Six. 2009. Transport of fungal symbionts by mountain pine beetles. Canadian Entomology 18: 55-59.

Hansen, A., D.L. Six and Y. Ortega. 2009. Comparison of ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carbaidae) assemblages in Rocky   Mountain savannas invaded and un-invaded by an exotic forb, spotted knapweed. Northwest Science 83: 348-360.

Six, D.L. 2009. Climate change and mutualism. Nature Reviews Microbiology 7: 686. Invited editorial.

Hatala, J.A., M.C. Dietze, R.L. Crabtree, K. Kendall, D.L. Six, and P.R. Moorcroft. 2011. An ecosystem-scale model for the spread of a host-specific forest pathogen in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ecological Applications 21:1138-1153 

Six, D.L. and M. J. Wingfield. 2011. The role of phytopathogenicity in bark beetle-fungus symbioses: A challenge to the classic paradigm. Annual Review of Entomology 56: 255-272.

Wingfield, M. J., M. P. A. Coetzee, P. W. Crous, D. L. Six and B. D. Wingfield.  2011. Fungal phoenix rising from the ashes? IMA Fungus 1: 149-153.

Massoumi-Alamouti, S., D. L. Six, V. Wang, S. Diguistini, J. Bohlman, R.C. Hamelin, N. Feau, and C. Breuil. 2011. Gene genealogies reveal cryptic speciation and host-specificity for the pine fungal pathogen, Grosmannia clavigera. Microbial Ecology 20: 2581-2602.

Six, D.L, de Beer, ZW, Duong, T, Carroll, A. L. and M. J. Wingfield. 2011. Fungal associates of the lodgepole pine beetle, Dendroctonus murrayanae. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 100: 231-244.

Six, D.L., M. Poulsen, A. K. Hansen, M. J. Wingfield, J. Roux, P. Eggleton, B. Slippers, and T. D. Paine. 2011. Anthropogenic effects on insect-microbial symbioses in forest and savanna ecosystems. Symbiosis 53: 101-121. Cover article

van der Linde, J. A., D. L. Six, and J. Roux. 2011. In press. New species of Gondwanamyces from dying Euphorbia trees in South Africa. Mycologia 104:574-584.

­­­­­­­­van der Linde, J.A, D. L Six, M. J. Wingfield, and J. Roux. 2011. Lasiodiplodia species associated with dying Euphorbia ingens in South Africa.  Southern Forests 73: 165-173. 

van der Linde, J.A., J. Roux, M.J. Wingfield, and D.L. Six. 2012. Die off of giant Euphorbia trees in South Africa: Symptoms and relationships to climate. South African Journal of Botany 83: 172-185.

Six, D.L. 2012. Ecological and Evolutionary determinants of bark beetle-fungus symbioses. Insects 3: 339-366.

Biedermann, P. H. W., K. D. Klepzig, Taborsky and D. L. Six. 2013. Dynamics of filamentous fungi in the ambrosia gardens of the primitively eusocial beetle Xyleborinus saxesenii Ratzeburg (Scolytinae: Curculionidae). FEMS Microbial Ecology 83: 711-723.

Addison, A, J.A. Powell, D.L. Six, M. Moore, and B. Bentz. 2013. The role of temperature variability in stabilizing the mountain pine beetle-fungus mutualism. Journal of Theoretical Biology 335: 40-50.

Six, D. L. 2013. The bark beetle holobiont: Why microbes matter. Journal of Chemical Ecology 39: 989-1002. Invited review.

Six, D.L., E. Biber and E. Long. 2014. Management for mountain pine beetle outbreak suppression: Does relevant science support current policy?  Forests 5: 103-133. Invited review.

Addison, A., J.A. Powell, D. L. Six and B. J. Bentz. 2015. Integrating models to investigate critical phenological overlaps in complex ecological interactions: the mountain pine beetle-fungus symbiosis. Journal of Theoretical Biology 68: 55-66.

Bracewell, R, and D. L. Six. 2015. Broadscale specificity in a beetle-fungal symbiosis: A spatio-temporal molecular analysis of the mycangial fungi of the western pine beetle. Microbial Ecology 68: 859-870.

Moore, M., J. Powell, B. Bentz, and D.L. Six. 2015. Effects of temperature on growth, sporulation, and competition of mountain pine beetle fungal symbionts. Microbial Ecology 70: 336-347.

Dooley, E., J.A. Powell and D.L. Six. 2015. A comparison of mountain pine beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae) productivity and survival in lodgepole and whitebark pine after a region-wide cold weather event. Forest Science.61: 235-246.

Dysthe, J.C., R. Bracewell, and D.L. Six. 2015. Temperature effects on growth of the fungal symbionts of the western pine beetle. Fungal Ecology 17: 62-68.

Dooley, E, and D.L. Six. 2015. Severe white pine blister rust infection in whitebark pine alters mountain pine beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) attack density, emergence rate, and body size. Environmental Entomology 107: 1384-1394

Bracewell, R. R. and D.L. Six. 2015. Experimental evidence of bark beetle adaptation to a fungal symbiont. Ecology and Evolution 5: 5109-5119.

Vander Linde, J. D.L. Six, W.Z. de Beer, M.J. Wingfield, and J. Roux. 2016. Novel ophiostomatalean fungi from galleries of Cyrtogenius africus (Scolytinae) infesting dying Euphorbia ingens. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Journal of Microbiology.

Van der Linde, J., D.L. Six, J. Roux. 2017. Landscape degradation may contribute to large-scale die-off of Euphorbia ingens in South Africa. South African Journal of Botany 111: 144-152

Van der Linde, J. and D. L. Six, M. J. Wingfield and J. Roux. 2017. Seasonal flight patterns of Curculionidae (Cossoninae and Scolytinae) infesting dying Euphorbia ingens in South Africa. Journal of Entomological Science 70-81

Six, D.L., Vergobbi, C., and M. Cutter. 2018. Are survivors different? Genetic and growth analyses of co-occurring whitebark and lodgepole pine after a mountain pine beetle outbreak. Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 993.

Bracewell, R.R., Vanderpool, D., Good, J., and D.L. Six. 2018. Cascading speciation among mutualists and antagonists in a tree-beetle-fungal interaction. Royal Society Proc B 285: 20180694.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Forest Health and Biotechnology: Possibilities and Considerations. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25221. Peer-reviewed. I was one of 10 authors.

Six, D.L. and J. J. Elser. 2019. Extreme ecological stoichiometry of a bark beetle-fungus mutualism. Ecological Entomology 44:543-551

Biedermann, P., J.-C. Grégoire , A. Gruppe , J. Hagge , A. Hammerbacher , R. Hofstetter , D. Kandasamy , M. Kolarik , M. Kostovcik , P. Krokene , J. Müller, A. Sallé , D. L. Six , T. Turrini , D. Vanderpool , M. Wingfield , C. Bässler. 2019.  Bark Beetle Population Dynamics in the Anthropocene: Challenges and Solutions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2019.06.002

Six, D.L. 2019. A major symbiont shift supports a major niche shift for a clade of bark beetles. Ecological Entomology https://doi.org/10.1111/een.12786

Six, D.L. 2020. Applying niche construction theory to link colonization behavior and causal chain-effects in bark beetle-fungus symbioses. Current Opinion in Insect Science 39: 27-34.

Six, D.L. and J. Elser. 2020. Mutualism is not restricted to tree-killing bark beetles and fungi: The ecological stoichiometry of secondary bark beetles, fungi, and a scavenger. Ecological Entomology. https://doi.org/10.1111/een.12897

Hulcr, J., Barnes, I., De Beer, Z.W., Duong, T.A., Gazis,R., Johnson,A.J., Jusino, M.A., Kasson, M.T., Li, Y., Lynch, S., Mayers, C., Musvuugwa, T., Roets, F., Seltmann, K.C., Six, D.L., Vanderpool, D., Villari, C. 2020. Bark beetle mycobiome: collaboratively defined research priorities on a widespread insect-fungus symbiosis. Symbiosis. In press.

In prep:

Six, D.L. Why models of mutualism sometimes miss the boat: Moving beyond the agonist-mutualist continuum.

Six, D.L., Livingston, R.L., Wilson, M. Distribution, biology, and taxonomic reclassification of the mycangial fungus of the fir engraver, Scolytus ventralis

Six, D.L., Perkins, D., Brown, P., Hicke, J.A., and Berglund, E. Natural selection for trees better adapted to a new normal? Genetic, chemical, and growth differences between mountain pine beetle-selected trees and surviving whitebark pines.

Six, D.L. Assessing ponderosa pine resistance to mountain pine beetle at Devil’s Tower National Monument and Wind Cave National Park using tree phenotype, genotype, and climate data.

Six, D.L. and Klepzig, K.D. Context dependency in bark beetle-fungus symbioses revisited.

Technical Reports:

Bentz, B., J. Logan, J. MacMahon, C. D. Allen, M. Ayres, E. Berg, A. Carroll, M. Hansen, J. Hicke, L. Joyce, W. Macfarlane, S. Munson, J. Negrón, T. Paine, J. Powell, K. Raffa, J. Régnière, M. Reid, B. Romme, S. J. Seybold, D. Six, D. Tomback, J. Vandygriff, T. Veblen, M. White, J. Witcosky, D. Wood. Bark Beetle Outbreaks in Western North America: Causes and Consequences. 2009.  University of Utah Press. 44 pp.