Skip to main content

Population Dynamics of the Western Tent Caterpillar: The Roles of Fecundity, Disease and Temperature

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.P.M.
Date created
Many populations of forest Lepidoptera exhibit regular periodic cycles in abundance. Explicit mechanisms for such dynamics however, remain a subject of debate in Ecology. I used annual field data (1977-2015) from a cyclical species of forest Lepidoptera native to southwestern B.C., the western tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum pluviale), to elucidate how fecundity, viral disease and temperature contribute to its dynamics. Using time-series analysis and relationships between lagged population density, disease prevalence and annual population growth rate, I demonstrated that cyclical dynamics can be generated. I then used AIC model selection to show that fecundity and lagged population density had the greatest contributions to annual population rate of increase, followed by disease prevalence and warmer spring temperatures during larval development. Using these factors, I constructed a population model capable of generating population cycles similar to those observed in the field. These results indicate that fecundity, density-dependent disease prevalence and temperature contribute significantly to the cyclical dynamics of these populations.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author.
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Cory, Jennifer
Member of collection
Download file Size
etd9831_PMacDonald.pdf 2.45 MB

Views & downloads - as of June 2023

Views: 20
Downloads: 2