Climatic synchrony and increased outbreaks in allopatric populations of an invasive defoliator

Samuel F. Ward, Brian H. Aukema

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10 Scopus citations


Larch casebearer is an invasive defoliator in North America distributed within the regions of two allopatric hosts, eastern larch and western larch. Despite the establishment of a successful importation biological control program and ongoing parasitism by both native and introduced parasitoids, larch casebearer has recently undergone outbreaks on eastern larch and western larch. We analyzed defoliation data from aerial surveys to quantify spatiotemporal synchrony and found that defoliation by larch casebearer was synchronous both within and between eastern and western larch forests. We also analyzed monthly minimum temperatures across the study region and found that warming spring temperatures in March and cooling fall/winter temperatures in October through December were positively correlated at distances comparable to those between the allopatric outbreaks of larch casebearer. For allopatric populations with positively correlated population dynamics, climate is the most likely driver of synchrony. Thus, we suggest that a changing climate has facilitated recent outbreaks of larch casebearer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)685-691
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements Funding was provided by USDA Forest Service award 15-DG-1142004-237, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station project MIN-17-082, and a University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship to SW. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful critiques.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Coleophora laricella
  • Importation biological control
  • Invasion ecology
  • Larix spp
  • Spatiotemporal dynamics


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