The changing relation of landscape patterns and jack pine budworm populations during an outbreak


  • Volker C. Radeloff,

  • David J. Mladenoff,

  • Mark S. Boyce

V. C. Radeloff and D. J. Mladenoff, Dept of Forest Ecology and Management, Univ. of Wisconsin, 1630 Linden Dr., Madison, WI 53706-1598, USA ( – M. S. Boyce, College of Natural Resources, Univ. of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, WI 54481, USA (present address: Dept of Biological Sciences, Univ. of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2E9).


The influence of landscape patterns on ecological processes is generally acknowledged, but often difficult to quantify. The objective of our study was to quantify the relation of jack pine budworm (Choristoneura pinus pinus) population levels to both the abundance of jack pine (Pinus banksiana) and of jack pine stand edges in the landscape. The 450 000 ha Pine Barrens region, located in northwestern Wisconsin, USA, experienced a severe jack pine budworm outbreak from 1990 to 1995. We calculated landscape indices on a landcover map derived from Landsat TM satellite imagery. Landscape indices were calculated on circular buffers (0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, and 2.5 km radius) centered on 143 budworm population sampling points for which annual budworm counts were available. Edge density was normalized for the proportion of jack pine in the landscape using random maps as a standard. Correlations between landscape patterns and budworm populations varied over time: proportion of jack pine showed strongest positive correlation with budworm population levels up to the peak of the outbreak (1993). Edge density exhibited positive correlation up to the peak of the outbreak, but negative correlation in the subsequent years as the outbreak declined. This may suggest that pollen-bearing male cones, which are more abundant along edges, support higher budworm populations in the initial phase of the outbreak, but stronger predation on budworm along edges subsequently reduces populations. We provide insight into previously inconclusive results on the relation of jack pine budworm population density to jack pine stand edges. The effects of landscape patterns, such as edge density, may vary not only in magnitude, but also in direction, being positive and negative during different phases of an insect outbreak. Therefore, caution should be taken in relating landscape patterns to process at either a single scale or point in time.