When: Wednesday, October 6 at 10am.
Alex M. Chubaty, FOR-CAST Research & Analytics
Barry Cooke, Natural Resources Canada
Eliot McIntire, Natural Resources Canada & University of British Columbia
Mountain pine beetle (MPB) has expanded beyond its native range in western Canada and poses a risk to large areas of contiguous pine forests within the boreal plains of central Canada. Robust forecasts of MPB eruptive potential and spread are required to identify regions for targeted management actions in order to slow the spread of this tree-killing forest pest. We developed and validated a spatially explicit MPB forecasting model that couples an existing (aspatial) population growth model with a long range dispersal and climatic suitability models for a study area in central Alberta, Canada. Our model showed very good to excellent predictive ability over a 10-year forecast horizon, based on Area Under the Curve scores. We forecast MPB eruptive dynamics and dispersal for the current decade (2021-2030), and predict modest range expansions northward and eastwards. Our spatial forecasts identify areas at greatest risk of MPB infestation this decade, and therefore identifies areas that could be targeted by management actions before these populations grow out of control. A key benefit of the modelling system we used is modularity and reusability of model components, which facilitates application of the model to new study areas. Additional integration of this model with climate change, wildfires, species-at-risk, and management models may be used to address complex land management challenges beyond the short terms here.