Characterizing the potential distribution of the invasive Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) in Worcester County, Massachusetts

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The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) (Anoplophora glabripennis) is an invasive insect pest that has established populations in Worcester County, Massachusetts as of 2008. ALB predominantly targets red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), which are prominent in New England hardwood forests, and Norway maple (Acer platanoides), which was planted in built environments as street trees in response to severe weather and invasive insect and pathogen disturbances. Mahalanobis Typicality models related presence locations of ALB presence-only locations in Worcester County towns from 2008 to 2012 to biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic variables to predict the potential distribution of ALB and to determine locations most characteristic of infestation. k-fold cross-validation and a continuous Boyce Index were employed to validate model performance and to identify threshold values at which continuous models of typicality could be reclassified into categorical maps. Distance-to-roads (r2=0.19) and probability of maple presence (r2=0.13) were the most important predictor variables in the ALB model. Locations that were most consistently susceptible to ALB infestation had significant high maple presence (p<0.001) and significant low distance-to-roads (p<0.001) compared to the whole study area, suggesting that ALB in Worcester County, MA, prefers maple-dominant edge habitats at the current stage of invasion. The localized ALB potential distribution model was consistently accurate (Boyce Continuous Index=0.84) despite the lack of absence locations and incomplete knowledge of ALB niche breadth in both native and invaded ranges. The results from this study could be used as a baseline for effective adaptive management policies that could help prioritize the need for early detection/eradication measures and address the potential ecological and social ramifications of the current ALB outbreak in Worcester County. It is hoped that the model employed could be further tested for future outbreaks as they are discovered in the USA. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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Applied Geography

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Asian longhorned beetle, Boyce continuous index, invasive species, Mahalanobis typicality, species distribution modeling