Incoming! Association of landscape features with dispersing mountain pine beetle populations during a range expansion event in western Canada

Honey Marie C. de la Giroday, Allan L. Carroll, B. Staffan Lindgren, Brian H. Aukema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins (Coleoptera: Curculionidae, Scolytinae), is a forest insect that undergoes intermittent population eruptions, causing landscape-level mortality to mature pines. Currently, an outbreak covers over 16.3 million ha of British Columbia and Alberta in western Canada. Recent incursion into the jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) of northwestern Alberta threatens further range expansion through the boreal forest to central and eastern Canada. The spread from British Columbia into northwestern Alberta has been facilitated by above-canopy dispersal of the insect by meso-scale atmospheric currents. At these scales, dispersing D. ponderosae may behave like inert particles, causing terrain-induced tropospheric convective and advective currents to influence population dispersal and establishment. We use spatial point process regression models to examine the association of meso-scale variables, including landscape features and their orientations, habitat suitability, elevation and treatment efforts, with occurrence of D. ponderosae infestations in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Infestations of D. ponderosae primarily established in canyons and valleys, before moving into more open-sloped areas. Southwestern slopes of midslope ridges and small hills, southwest facing open slopes, and valleys that run in a northeast-southwest cardinal direction were positively associated with higher intensities of infestation. This study provides insight into the influences of complex terrain on landscape disturbance by a forest insect, and can be used to prioritize areas for potential management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1110
Number of pages14
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Funding for this study was provided by the TRIA project of Genome British Columbia, Genome Alberta, and Genome Canada. MPB Initiative—Natural Resources Canada and NSERC Discovery grants to BHA and Pacific Forestry Centre Graduate Student and Association of Professional Biologists


  • Boreal forest
  • Dendroctonus ponderosae
  • Dispersal
  • Jack pine
  • Landscape features
  • Lodgepole pine
  • Mountain pine beetle
  • Mountains
  • Valleys


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