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Individual Highlight

Predicting the Path of the Amber-Marked Birch Leaf Miner

Photo of Snapshot : Scientists model future infestation of an invasive insect in Anchorage, AK

Principal Investigators(s) :
Lundquist, John 
Research Location : Anchorage, Alaska
Research Station : Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW)
Year : 2012
Highlight ID : 78


The amber-marked birch leaf miner is a leaf-eating insect that has infested trees in Anchorage since 1996. These infestations have received much attention from homeowners, extension agents. Although researchers have been studying the infestations and thousands of dollars have been spent trying to reduce the insects' effects, effective management techniques to mitigate the problem across landscape scales remain elusive.

Amber-marked birch leaf miner infestations create distinct, patchy landscape-scale patterns involving multiple trees synchronized across multiple urban neighborhoods. These patches appear to migrate across neighborhoods from year to year. Areas with a relatively high intensity of infestation one year will experience relatively low intensity the next year.

This study generated spatial distribution models of the leaf miner in the Anchorage area and compared and contrasted spatial distributions across years. The modeling methods developed in this study enable the numerical analysis of invasive insect populations across large spatial and long temporal scales. The model also projects future insect infestation levels and distributions. These projections have been shared with the municipality of Anchorage and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Colorado State University
  • Municipality of Anchorage
  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Cooperative Extension Service

Program Areas