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Edge density key to controlling gypsy moth spread

olonies occur when moths hitch a ride on vehicles or other items relocated by people. Without an Allee effect, these colonies would establish, but because gypsy moths exhibit an Allee effect, the low populations are insufficient for establishment of permanent populations.

This is also true at the edges of the population area. If the population density is low, the Allee effect prevents growth across the boundaries. The model showed that no pulsed expansion exists for populations unaffected by the Allee effect. However, when the it is a factor, not only does pulsed expansion occur, but it mimics the historic pulses of the gypsy moth population from 1960 to 2002 found in the quarantine records.

Currently, the containment program for gypsy moths aims at controlling outbreaks outside the current population boundaries. The researchers suggest that "the invasion might also be slowed by suppressing outbreaks near the invasion front (within the populated area), to reduce the number of dispersers to below the donor threshold." This would decrease edge populations and prevent the periodic surges of growth that expand the territory.

Other invading species may also exhibit pulsed spreading. If researchers can determine that the Allee effect is in place, than this same plan of containment might aid in controlling a variety of pests.


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Source:Penn State


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