Anthropogenic Drivers of Gypsy Moth Dispersal.

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Title: Anthropogenic Drivers of Gypsy Moth Dispersal.
Author: Bigsby, Kevin M
Advisors: Erin O. Sills, Committee Chair
Fred P. Hain, Committee Member
Heather M. Cheshire, Committee Member
Patrick C. Tobin, Committee Member
Abstract: Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar: Linnaeus) is a polyphagous non-native forest pest first introduced to Medford, Massachusetts in 1869. It has since spread as far south as North Carolina and as far west as Wisconsin. Gypsy moth is responsible for defoliating approximately 100,000 hectares of forest annually, resulting in mortality in a small percentage of trees, averting behavior by recreators, and creating a nuisance to the general public. Limiting the spread of gypsy moth is beneficial because it delays the onset of costs and losses associated with quarantine, tree defoliation and mortality, and nuisance. Gypsy moth is believed to disperse naturally up to 2.5 km/yr (e.g. early instar ballooning) but has been observed to disperse much greater distances. The scientific consensus is that this longer distance dispersal occurs through anthropogenic vectors (e.g. egg masses being transported on firewood). Despite the resources that United States Department of Agriculture and state agencies dedicate to eliminating and managing new infestations resulting from long distance dispersal, there has been limited empirical research on the relationship between the dispersal of gypsy moth and the movement of people and their goods. This thesis develops a conceptual framework of the anthropogenic factors that could affect dispersal, measures these factors with secondary data at the county level from a variety of sources, and estimates the presence or absence of gypsy moth using logistic regression models. The dependent variable is drawn from trap catch records archived by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service program, Slow-the-Spread, in areas distal to the 1 moth/trap line between 1999 and 2007. Through step-wise logistic regression estimating sub-models that include variables representing each broad anthropogenic factor, a final empirical model is specified. The variables of the model are estimated independently for each year from 1999 to 2007, resulting in a mean Pseudo R square of 0.568. Consistently significant ( ) anthropogenic variables are the number of households using wood for heating fuel and mean household income. These findings are discussed with regard to invasion theory and quarantine policy. One key implication is the continual importance of regulating and raising awareness about the risk of moving firewood from infested to uninfested zones.
Date: 2009-04-16
Degree: MS
Discipline: Forestry

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