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Data to support publication figures and animation scripts at GitHub: Modeling weather-driven long-distance dispersal of spruce budworm moths (Choristoneura fumiferana)

Garcia, Matthew; Sturtevant, Brian R.; Saint-Amant, Remi; Charney, Joseph J.; Delisle, Johanne; Boulanger, Yan; Townsend, Philip A.; Régnière, Jacques

Long-term studies of insect populations in the North American boreal forest have shown the vital importance of long-distance dispersal to the maintenance and expansion of insect outbreaks. In this work, we extend several concepts established previously in an empirically-based dispersal flight model with recent work on the physiology and behavior of the adult eastern spruce budworm (SBW) moth, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.). An outbreak of defoliating SBW in Quebec, ongoing since the mid-2000s, already covers millions of hectares of forests in eastern Canada and threatens to spread into neighboring areas through annual summertime episodes of long-distance dispersal. Such flight events in favorable conditions frequently include billions of SBW moths dispersing in the warm atmospheric boundary layer, typically starting around sunset and often lasting through several hours of wind-driven transport over hundreds of kilometers. Successful SBW dispersal to possibly distant host forest areas depends acutely on the weather. Here we describe the components and results of SBW–pyATM, an open-source individual-based modeling framework developed in Python for the simulation of these weather-driven SBW dispersal events. Using seasonal SBW phenology results from BioSIM at known outbreak locations and high-resolution Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model output, we focus on modeling dispersal flights over two successive nights in July 2013 in southern Quebec. Our flight model closely reproduces the SBW spatial patterns and motions observed by weather surveillance radar over the St. Lawrence estuary. With SBW–pyATM we can estimate landing locations for both male and female SBW and the resulting spatial patterns of egg distribution, allowing us eventually to forecast future larval defoliation activity in new locations where immigration could help overcome local limitations on SBW populations. This information could then support forest management decisions where SBW outbreaks threaten valuable resources.

Additional information and instructions are provided at https://github.com/megarcia/Garcia_etal_2022a along with the python and shell scripts that use these data.

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