A Novel Method of Fitting Spatio-Temporal Models to Data, With Applications to the Dynamics of Mountain Pine BeetlesA novel method for fitting spatio-temporal models to data, withapplications to the dynamics of Mountain Pine Beetle

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Natural Resource Modelling



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Abstract We develop a modular landscape model for the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) infestation of a stage-structured forest of lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas). Beetle attack dynamics are modeled using response functions and beetle movement using dispersal kernels. This modeling technique yields four model candidates. These models allow discrimination between four broad possibilities at the landscape scale: whether or not beetles are subject to an Allee effect at the landscape scale and whether or not host selection is random or directed. We fit the models with aerial damage survey data to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area using estimating functions, which allows for more rapid and complete parameter determination. We then introduce a novel model selection procedure based on facial recognition technology to compliment traditional nonspatial selection metrics. Together with these we are able to select a best model and draw inferences regarding the behavior of the beetle in outbreak conditions.