, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 353-369
Date: 11 Dec 2009

Modeling the invasive emerald ash borer risk of spread using a spatially explicit cellular model

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The emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis) is decimating native ashes (Fraxinus sp.) throughout midwestern North America, killing millions of trees over the years. With plenty of ash available throughout the continent, the spread of this destructive insect is likely to continue. We estimate that the insect has been moving along a “front” at about 20 km/year since about 1998, but more alarming is its long-range dispersal into new locations facilitated by human activities. We describe a spatially explicit cell-based model used to calculate risk of spread in Ohio, by combining the insect’s flight and short-range dispersal (“insect flight”) with human-facilitated, long-range dispersal (“insect ride”). This hybrid model requires estimates of EAB abundance, ash abundance, major roads and traffic density, campground size and usage, distance from the core infested zone, wood products industry size and type of wood usage, and human population density. With the “insect flight” model, probability of movement is dependent on EAB abundance in the source cells, the quantity of ash in the target cells, and the distances between them. With the “insect-ride” model, we modify the value related to ash abundance based on factors related to potential human-assisted movements of EAB-infested ash wood or just hitchhiking insects. We attempt to show the advantage of our model compared to statistical approaches and to justify its practical value to field managers working with imperfect knowledge. We stress the importance of the road network in distributing insects to new geographically dispersed sites in Ohio, where 84% were within 1 km of a major highway.