"Where I live in Pennsylvania, it's too late to slow the moths' spread because they already are prevalent across the entire state," said Shea. "It's so bad here that, at certain times, if you stand in the forest and listen, it sounds like it's raining, but what's raining is their excrement." Nevertheless, she added, "It's not too late to try to control their abundance in Pennsylvania. There is still a lot that can be done."
The model's results allow managers in those states where the moths are actively spreading to select a management strategy based on the number of medium-density and high-density infestation patches within their jurisdictions. The model ignores smaller patches because they often go extinct by themselves and, if they escape extinction as small patches, they will be detected in the model as medium patches. For example, if an area contains 20 medium patches and 20 large patches, the model suggests that managers should focus their energy and money on reducing some of those large patches to medium patches. This strategy, ultimately, would be the most effective means of controlling gypsy moths in that particular circumstance. "The model allows us to determine an exact optimal solution to a management problem," said Tiffany Bogich, a member of the reserach team who formerly was an undergraduate student at Penn State and now is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge.
"We really think this model, tailored to particular locations, could be quite useful to land managers," said Shea. "After all, we're not doing this research just to learn about the biology and ecology of gypsy moths. We want to use what we learn to make the world a better place."
|Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy|