The Gypsy Moth: is Defoliation Dependant on Climate Factors?
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The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar, is one of North America's most devastating forest pests. It is responsible for millions of dollars in damage to forests and communities and it is subject to billion dollar management plans. The species is native in Europe and Asia and has existed there for thousands of years and survived the harsh climates related to those areas. In the United States, the gypsy moth is spreading with little opposition. Understanding the issue can lead to the solution of the problem. The specific data that should have the greatest effect on the gypsy moth is weather and treatment data. Climate can act as a limiting factor that can help explain the rise and fall of defoliation numbers. A variable like wind speed helps determine rate of spread and the variables precipitation and temperature can act as limiting factors. Understanding the effects of climate on gypsy moth populations may serve as a road map through which preventative measures can be employed in areas where the gypsy moth infestation may expand due to changes in climate. Climate data that was analyzed in 10 Wisconsin counties to determine a correlation between defoliation and climate, with two p-values under .05 I found that the correlation between my climate variables and defoliation was correlated with temperature. A more extensive study is required to better understand the connection between climate and defoliation.