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Keywords:

  • BIOCLIM ;
  • climatic favourability;
  • ecological niche factor analysis;
  • insect pest;
  • locust;
  • MaxEnt;
  • Species distribution models

Abstract

For millennia, locust swarms have recurrently devastated crop productivity across continents. In much of Europe, locust outbreaks have been considerably reduced by human pressure in recent decades, but important foci of outbreaks still exist in Spain. Distribution models are often used to derive spatial hypotheses and risk maps. Because insufficient information is available to include the extreme plasticity of the solitary and gregarious phases of locusts in large-scale spatial models, we modelled the distribution either of Acrididae species or of outbreaks per se. Confirmed occurrences of Dociostaurus, Calliptamus and Chorthippus species were obtained from a field survey complemented by museum collection data and the published literature. The locations of confirmed or potential outbreaks covering two time periods of 20 years each were obtained from the literature and from Spanish autonomous community reports. Models were built with one topographic and eleven climatic predictors. We evaluated the ability of different models to predict outbreak recurrence and found that models based on Moroccan locust data or outbreak occurrence data performed the best. We generated a predictive map of the climatic favourability for locust outbreaks in Spain and found that the major foci of locust swarms were encompassed by those areas categorized by the models as areas of highest risk. Predictive maps of outbreak favourability can facilitate the more sustainable use of insecticides and more efficient integrated pest management.