Canadian Forest Service Publications

Long-distance dispersal of spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana Clemens) in Minnesota (USA) and Ontario (Canada) via the atmospheric pathway. 2013. Sturtevant, B.R.; Achtemeier, G.L.; Charney, J.J.; Anderson, D.P.; Cooke, B.J.; Townsend, P.A. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 168:186-200.

Year: 2013

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34153

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.agrformet.2012.09.008

† This site may require a fee

Mark record


Dispersal can play an important role in the population dynamics of forest insects, but the role of long-distance immigration and emigration remains unclear due to the difficulty of quantifying dispersal distance and direction. We designed an agent-based spruce budworm flight behavior model that, when interfaced with temperature, wind speed, and precipitation output from a high-resolution atmospheric model, produces detailed flight trajectories and deposition patterns over large landscapes. Rules and relationships describing budworm adult (moth) lift-off, ascent, horizontal flight, and descent were parameterized using a detailed empirical study of budworm dispersal behavior and corresponding meteorological conditions during a 1970s outbreak in New Brunswick, Canada. Simulated moth landings were assumed to be dependent in part on the availability of suitable host tree species. We applied the model to a 6.4 million ha landscape at the border between northern Minnesota (USA) and Ontario (Canada) during an eight-day flight window in late June 2007. Specimens collected during and after this flight window indicated moths emerging from an inland source of outbreak populations dispersed over 150 km to trap sites near the north shore of Lake Superior, where localized cooling was predicted to have delayed emergence of locally-produced budworm moths. Simulations suggested migration of moths to lakeshore sites from the outbreak source was plausible on three of eight dates within the flight window, but the relatively narrow deposition footprints implied immigration occurred on different dates across lakeshore sites. Apart from wind speed and direction, precipitation and low temperatures limited dispersal to substantially shorter distances for a few dates within the simulated flight window. Key uncertainties limiting our understanding of atmospheric transport of spruce budworm include behavioral responses to vertical heterogeneity in the air temperature profile, the precipitation threshold required for the forced descent of moths from the air column, and search mechanisms affecting host and/or mate location during long-distance flight.

Plain Language Summary

This paper proposes a computer model for long-range air transport of spruce budworm moths. The model simulates the movement of male moths from isolated pockets of defoliation in central Minnesota into the Minnesota/Ontario /Lake Superior border region in the summer of 2007, suggesting it may have broader applicability to other times and places. The model supports Greenbank's hypothesis that air transport is a significant pathway for budworm movement. This paper suggests that air transport modeling could be applied more generally to other airborne forest and agricultural pest species.