Long-distance dispersal of the gypsy moth (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) facilitated its initial invasion of Wisconsin.


Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) spread is dominated by stratified dispersal, and, although spread rates are variable in space and time, the gypsy moth has invaded Wisconsin at a consistently higher rate than in other regions. Allee effects, which act on low-density populations ahead of the moving population that contribute to gypsy moth spread, have also been observed to be consistently weaker in Wisconsin. Because a major cause of an Allee effect in the gypsy moth is mate-finding failure at low densities, supplementing low-density populations with immigrants that arrive through dispersal may facilitate establishment and consequent spread. We used local indicator of spatial autocorrelation methods to examine space-time gypsy moth monitoring data from 1996 to 2006 and identify isolated, low-density colonies that arrived through dispersal. We measured the distance of these colonies from the moving population front to show that long-distance dispersal was markedly present in earlier years when Wisconsin was still mainly uninfested. Recently, however, immigrants arriving through long-distance dispersal may no longer be detected because instead of invading uninfested areas, they are now supplementing high-density colonies. In contrast, we observed no temporal pattern in the distance between low-density colonies and the population front in West Virginia and Virginia. We submit that long-distance dispersal, perhaps facilitated through meteorological mechanisms, played an important role in the spread dynamics of the initial Wisconsin gypsy moth invasion, but it currently plays a lesser role because the portion of Wisconsin most susceptible to long-distance immigrants from alternate sources is now heavily infested.

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@article{Tobin2008LongdistanceDO, title={Long-distance dispersal of the gypsy moth (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) facilitated its initial invasion of Wisconsin.}, author={Patrick Tobin and Laura M. Blackburn}, journal={Environmental entomology}, year={2008}, volume={37 1}, pages={87-93} }