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The spatiotemporal dynamics and range expansion of the red palm weevil in Israel


The red palm weevil (RPW), Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, an oligophagous borer that specifically attacks the Arecaceae family, poses a serious threat to commercial and ornamental palms. Originally from tropical Asia, the RPW has spread to Africa and Europe, reaching the Mediterranean region 30 year ago. Characterizing its spread is a key aspect of effectively managing its geographical expansion. Using georeferenced RPW occurrence data from 2012 to 2013 in Israel, we sought to better understand its spatial spread. Our objectives were to: (1) describe the spatiotemporal distribution of RPW in three regions (northern, western and southern) that were thought to constitute a risk to the vast date palm plantations across the Beit She’an Valley (BSH), (2) quantify the dynamics of spread; and (3) initially characterize the influence of host species on RPW dispersal. We found that the spatiotemporal distribution of RPW significantly differed between regions. The weevils’ geographical occupancy areas increased by 853% and 571% in the northern and western regions, respectively, while no increase was observed in the southern region. In the northern and western regions, RPW spread toward BSH date palm plantations and an initial analysis has shown that host area and RPW captures were significantly correlated. Based on our analysis, we propose the following hypotheses: (1) Ornamental and particularly Canary palms are highly favorable hosts for population establishment and dispersal in comparison with date palm plantations; (2) thus, the RPW spread from urban areas toward date palm plantations in BSH is attributed to the density and distribution of these hosts.

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This research was supported by EU-Project No. FP7 KBBE 2011-5-289566 Grant “Palm Protect”. This project has also received funding by Grant No. 131-1627-10 from the Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture. We wish to thank Mr. Ami Haberman and Mr. Nadav Ezra from PPIS. Without their contribution, large-scale weevil monitoring would have been impossible. We also thank Mr. Yaacov Nakach, Mrs. Yaara Grinberg, Dr. Shay Barkan and Mrs. Dorit Rubinsky for their assistance. We are grateful to the reviewers for their critical and constructive comments. This paper is a contribution of the Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, Israel, No. 767/19.

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Correspondence to Eitan Goldshtein.

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Communicated by J.D. Sweeney.

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Goldshtein, E., Cohen, Y., Hetzroni, A. et al. The spatiotemporal dynamics and range expansion of the red palm weevil in Israel. J Pest Sci 93, 691–702 (2020).

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  • Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
  • Date palms
  • Kernel density estimation
  • Weighted mean center
  • Dispersal distance
  • GIS