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Tests of the role of a nuclear polyhedrosis virus in the population dynamics of its host, douglas-fir tussock moth, Orgyia pseudotsugata (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae)

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Summary

Outbreaks of the Douglas-fir tussock moth, Orgyia pseudotsugata (McDunnough), have recurred periodically, at 7- to 10-year intervals, since the first recorded observation in 1916 in Chase, British Columbia, Canada. Anderson and May (1981) hypothesized that microparasites are responsible for the periodic population fluctuations of some defoliating insects. We chose the association between the Douglas-fir tussock moth and a viral disease, caused by a nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV), to test whether their model, and variants thereof, can predict the observed population cycles. Density-dependent mortality, vertical transmission of the virus and an incubation period were added to the free-living stages model of Anderson and May (1981). Parameter values for the models were derived from published data and from an experiment.

Sensitivity analyses conducted for each model showed that none of the models generated the behavior of the Douglas-fir tussock moth as observed in the field. Thus, the periodicity of the outbreaks in field populations of tussock moths cannot be explained solely by the dynamics of the viral disease as described by Anderson and May's class of models; the virus is too short-lived and the growth rate of the insect population too high. Dynamics of other system components such as predators, parasites or food of the tussock moth probably play a significant role in the insect's population dynamics.

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References

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Correspondence to Randall M. Peterman.

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Vezina, A., Peterman, R.M. Tests of the role of a nuclear polyhedrosis virus in the population dynamics of its host, douglas-fir tussock moth, Orgyia pseudotsugata (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae). Oecologia 67, 260–266 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00384296

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Keywords

  • Sensitivity Analysis
  • Significant Role
  • Population Dynamic
  • Incubation Period
  • Viral Disease