Spatial Pattern Formation in an Insect Host-Parasitoid System

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Science  28 Nov 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5343, pp. 1619-1621
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5343.1619

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Spatial models in ecology predict that populations may form patchy distributions within continuous habitats, through strong predator-prey or host-parasitoid interactions combined with limited dispersal. Empirical support of these models is provided. Parasitoids emanating from a population outbreak of tussock moths (Orgyia vetusta) suppressed the growth of nearby experimental populations of the moth, while experimental populations farther away were able to grow. This result explains the observed localized nature of tussock moth outbreaks and illustrates how population distributions can be regulated by dynamic spatial processes.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jlmaron{at} Present address: University of California Bodega Marine Laboratory, Box 247, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, USA.

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