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Forest Defoliators and Climatic Change: Potential Changes in Spatial Distribution of Outbreaks of Western Spruce Budworm (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) and Gypsy Moth (Lepidoptera: Lymontriidae)

Williams, D.W. and Liebhold, A.M. (1995): Forest Defoliators and Climatic Change: Potential Changes in Spatial Distribution of Outbreaks of Western Spruce Budworm and Gypsy Moth. Environmental Entomology 24, 1-9.

Changes in geographical ranges and spatial extent of outbreaks of pest species are likely consequences of climatic change. We investigated potential changes in spatial distribution of outbreaks of western spruce budworm, Choristoneura occidentalis Freeman, and gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar (L.), in Oregon and Pennsylvania, respectively, using maps of historical defoliation, climate, and forest type in a geographic information system. Maps of defoliation frequency at a resolution of 2 2 km were assembled from historical aerial survey data. Weather maps for mean monthly temperature maxima and minima and precipitation over 30 yr. were developed by interpolation. Relationships between defoliation status and environmental variables were estimated using linear discriminant analysis. Five climatic change scenarios were investigated: an increase of 2ºC, a 2ºC increase with a small increase and a small decrease in precipitation, and projections of two general circulation models (GCMs) after 100 yr. at doubled carbon dioxide. With an increase in temperature alone, the projected defoliated area decreased relative to ambient conditions for budworm and increased slightly for gypsy moth. With an increase in temperature and precipitation, defoliated area increased for both species. Conversely, defoliated area decreased for both when temperature increased and precipitation decreased. Results for the GCM scenarios contrasted sharply. For one GCM, defoliation by budworm was projected to cover Oregon completely, whereas no defoliation was projected by gypsy moth in Pennsylvania. For the other, defoliation disappeared completely for budworm and slightly exceeded that under ambient conditions for gypsy moth. The results are discussed in terms of current forest composition and its potential changes.

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