Date of this Version
Int J Biometeorol (2013) 57:459–473; DOI 10.1007/s00484-012-0572-4
The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a nonnative species that continues to invade areas in North America. It spreads generally through stratified dispersal where local growth and diffusive spread are coupled with long-distance jumps ahead of the leading edge. Longdistance jumps due to anthropogenic movement of life stages is a well-documented spread mechanism. Another mechanism is the atmospheric transport of early instars and adult males, believed to occur over short distances. However, empirical gypsy moth population data continue to support the possibility of alternative methods of longrange dispersal. Such dispersal events seemed to have occurred in the mid- to late-1990s with spread across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. Such dispersal would be against the prevailing wind flow for the area and would have crossed a significant physical barrier (LakeMichigan). The climatology of the region shows that vigorous cyclones can result in strong easterly winds in the area at the time when early instars are present. It is hypothesized that these storms would enable individuals to be blown across the Lake and explain the appearance of new population centers observed at several locations on the western shore of Lake Michigan nearly simultaneously. A synoptic climatology model coupled with population dynamics data from the area was parameterized to show an association between transport events and population spread from 1996 to 2007. This work highlights the importance of atmospheric transport events relative to the invasion dynamics of the gypsy moth, and serves as a model for understanding this mechanism of spread in other related biological invasions.