Dendroctonus frontalis routinely kills pine trees throughout the southeastern United States, with consequences for the structure, function, and human value of forests. Multiple ecological processes influence beetle demographics: intraspecific competition, a specialist predator, tree oleoresin defenses, community interactions involving mutualistic fungi, and temperature. However, our understanding of how these processes influence landscape epidemiology remains limited. One complication is that different processes operate at different spatial scales (from decimeters to hundreds of kilometers). We are developing a stochastic simulation model of forest epidemiology that predicts the probability of regional outbreaks based upon initial abundance, variation in tree oleoresin, and beetle aggregation patterns. Results will test the hypothesis that variation in tree defenses (e.g., species composition of pines) influence the probability of outbreaks. Results will also yield specific, testable, predictions about how demographic processes operating at different spatial scales can interact to influence the landscape epidemiology of a forest insect.
Species 1: Coleoptera Scolytidae Dendroctonus frontalis (southern pine beetle)
Keywords: population ecology, spatial scale
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