Population Ecology (2012) 54, 239-250

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Kyle J. Haynes, Andrew M. Liebhold and Derek M. Johnson (2012)
Elevational gradient in the cyclicity of a forest-defoliating insect
Population Ecology 54 (2), 239-250
Abstract: Observed changes in the cyclicity of herbivore populations along latitudinal gradients and the hypothesis that shifts in the importance of generalist versus specialist predators explain such gradients has long been a matter of intense interest. In contrast, elevational gradients in population cyclicity are largely unexplored. We quantified the cyclicity of gypsy moth populations along an elevational gradient by applying wavelet analysis to spatially referenced 31-year records (1975-2005) of defoliation. Based on geographically weighted regression and nonlinear regression, we found either a hump-shaped or plateauing relationship between elevation and the cyclicity of gypsy moth populations and a positive relationship between cyclicity and the density of the gypsy moth's preferred host-tree species. The potential effects of elevational gradients in the density of generalist predators and preferred host-tree species on the cyclicity of gypsy moth populations were evaluated with mechanistic simulation models. The models suggested that an elevational gradient in the densities of preferred host tree species could partially explain elevational patterns of gypsy moth cyclicity. Results from a model assuming a type-III functional response of generalist predators to changes in gypsy moth density were inconsistent with the observed elevational gradient in gypsy moth cyclicity. However, a model with a more realistic type-II functional response gave results roughly consistent with the empirical findings. In contrast to classical studies on the effects of generalist predators on prey population cycles, our model with a type-II functional response predicts a unimodal relationship between generalist-predator density and the cyclicity of gypsy moth populations.
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Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Kyle J. Haynes, Andrew M. Liebhold

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
environment - cropping system/rotation
population dynamics/ epidemiology

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Lymantria dispar