Simulating the reciprocal interaction of forest landscape structure and southern pine beetle herbivory using LANDIS
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- Cairns, D.M., Lafon, C.W., Waldron, J.D. et al. Landscape Ecol (2008) 23: 403. doi:10.1007/s10980-008-9198-7
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The reciprocal interaction of landscape structure and ecological processes is a cornerstone of modern landscape ecology. We use a simulation model to show how landscape structure and herbivory interact to influence outbreaks of southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis Zimmermann) in a landscape representative of the southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. We use LANDIS and its biological disturbance agent module to simulate the effects of landscape composition (proportion of landscape in host area) and host aggregation on the size and severity of insect outbreaks and the persistence of the host species, Table Mountain Pine (Pinus pungens Lamb.). We find that landscape composition is less important in the modeled landscapes than host aggregation in structuring the severity of insect outbreaks. Also, simulated southern pine beetle outbreaks over time tend to decrease the aggregation of host species on the landscape by fragmenting large patches into smaller ones, thereby reducing the severity of future outbreaks. Persistence of Table Mountain pine decreases throughout all simulations regardless of landscape structure. The results of this study indicate that when considering alternative restoration strategies for insect-affected landscapes, it is necessary to consider the patterns of hosts on the landscape as well as the landscape composition.