Quantifying and predicting population connectivity of an outbreaking forest insect pest

2021-12-23 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Quantifying and predicting population connectivity of an outbreaking forest insect pest​
Larroque, J.; Wittische, J. & James, P. M. A.​ (2021) 
Landscape Ecology37(3) pp. 763​-778​.​ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-021-01382-9 

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Larroque, Jeremy; Wittische, Julian; James, Patrick M. A.
Abstract Context Dispersal has a key role in the population dynamics of outbreaking species such as the spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) as it can synchronize the demography of distant populations and favor the transition from endemic to epidemic states. However, we know very little about how landscape structure influences dispersal in such systems while such knowledge is essential for better forecasting of spatially synchronous population dynamics and to guide management strategies. Objectives We aimed to characterize the spatial environmental determinants of spruce budworm dispersal to determine how these features affect outbreak spread in Quebec (Canada). We then apply our findings to predict expected future landscape connectivity and explore its potential consequences on future outbreaks. Methods We used a machine-learning landscape genetics approach on 447 larvae covering most of the outbreak area and genotyped at 3562 SNP loci to identify the main variables affecting connectivity. Results We found that the connectivity between outbreak populations was driven by the combination of precipitation and host cover. Our forecasting suggests that between the current and next outbreaks, connectivity may increase between Ontario and Quebec, and might decrease in the eastern part, which could have the effect of limiting outbreak spread from Ontario and Quebec to the eastern provinces. Conclusions Although we did not identify any discrete barriers, low connectivity areas might constrain dispersal in the current and future outbreaks and should in turn, be intensively monitored. However, continued sampling as the outbreak progresses is needed to confirm the temporal stability of the observed patterns.
Issue Date
Landscape Ecology 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Büsgen-Institut ; Abteilung Wildtierwissenschaften 
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000038
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (1018)



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