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Incorporating anthropogenic variables into a species distribution model to map gypsy moth risk

Lippitt, Christopher D., Rogan, John, Toledano, James, Sangermano, Florencia, Eastman, J. Ronald, Mastro, Victor, Sawyer, Alan
Ecological modelling 2008 v.210 no.3 pp. 339
Lymantria dispar, geographical distribution, risk assessment, anthropogenic activities, insect ecology, environmental factors, neural networks, models, prediction, model validation, United States
This paper presents a novel methodology for multi-scale and multi-type spatial data integration in support of insect pest risk/vulnerability assessment in the contiguous United States. Probability of gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) establishment is used as a case study. A neural network facilitates the integration of variables representing dynamic anthropogenic interaction and ecological characteristics. Neural network model (back-propagation network [BPN]) results are compared to logistic regression and multi-criteria evaluation via weighted linear combination, using the receiver operating characteristic area under the curve (AUC) and a simple threshold assessment. The BPN provided the most accurate infestation-forecast predictions producing an AUC of 0.93, followed by multi-criteria evaluation (AUC = 0.92) and logistic regression (AUC = 0.86) when independently validating using post model infestation data. Results suggest that BPN can provide valuable insight into factors contributing to introduction for invasive species whose propagation and establishment requirements are not fully understood. The integration of anthropogenic and ecological variables allowed production of an accurate risk model and provided insight into the impact of human activities.