Temperature, seasonality and recurrent insect outbreaks - Tortix moths as a new mathematical and empirical model system

Project: Research project

Project Details


Instability of populations of animals, manifested as sudden outbreaks and crashes in their numbers, can have major effects on whole ecological systems. This project will build on recent discoveries in insects to investigate how temperature and the life history traits of a species can interact to change the timing of life cycles and the amplitude of changes in population size. The effort will combine sophisticated mathematical modeling, time-series analysis of existing data, and lab experiments to obtain a deep understanding of how temperature impacts the dynamics of populations of a tortrix moth. The investigators will test the hypothesis that warmer temperatures and more extreme seasonality favor outbreaks of insects by accelerating and synchronizing their development, such that multiple, overlapping population cycles combine to form a single, less stable cycle.

Tortrix moths are ubiquitous agricultural pests of high-value fruit, berry and nut crops. Findings from this project will enhance the ability of farmers and land managers to forecast outbreaks of these pests and to identify the life stages at which they can be most easily controlled. The broader impacts of this project also include the training of two graduate students and at least three undergraduates, and development of an international scientific collaboration between the U.S. and Canada. Findings will be disseminated to the public through agricultural extension materials.

Effective start/end date3/1/142/28/18


  • National Science Foundation: $330,000.00


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