Potential spread of the pine processionary moth in France: preliminary results from a simulation model and future challenges
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- Robinet, C., Rousselet, J. & Roques, A. Annals of Forest Science (2014) 71: 149. doi:10.1007/s13595-013-0287-7
Some forest insect pests are currently extending their range as a consequence of climate warming. However, in most cases, the evidence is mainly based on correlations and the underlying mechanism is not clearly known.
One of the most severe pests of pine forests in Europe, the pine processionary moth, Thaumetopoea pityocampa, is currently expanding its distribution as a result of climate warming and does not occupy entirely its potential habitat. A model describing its spread was developed to simulate its potential range in France under various climate change scenarios.
The spread model was divided into several sub-models to describe the growth, survival and dispersal of the species. The model was validated on the observed change of species distribution, its sensitivity was tested, and spread scenarios were simulated for the future.
The model shows that climate warming initiated the species range expansion in France since the early 1990s. The spread is now limited by dispersal capability, but human-mediated dispersal could accelerate the range expansion.
Species range expansion is an indicator of climate change. However, time lags can appear due to limited dispersal capabilities, and human-mediated dispersal could create satellite colonies and artificially accelerate the spread.