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Comparison of methods for estimating the spread of a non-indigenous species

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Tobin, Patrick C.; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Roberts, E. Anderson

Year Published



Journal of Biogeography. 34: 305?312.


Aim: To compare different quantitative approaches for estimating rates of spread in the exotic species gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar L., using county-level presence/absence data and spatially extensive trapping grids. Location: USA. Methods: We used county-level presence/absence records of the gypsy moth?s distribution in the USA, which are available beginning in 1900, and extensive grids of pheromone-baited traps, which are available in selected areas beginning in 1981. We compared a regression approach and a boundary displacement approach for estimating gypsy moth spread based on these sources of data. Results: We observed relative congruence between methods and data sources in estimating overall rates of gypsy moth spread through time, and among regions. Main conclusions: The ability to estimate spread in exotic invasive species is a primary concern in management programmes and one for which there is a lack of information on the reliability of methods. Also, in most invading species, there is generally a lack of data to explore methods of estimating spread. Extensive data available on gypsy moth in the USA allowed for such a comparison. We show that, even with spatially crude records of presence/absence, overall rates of spread do not differ substantially from estimates obtained from the more costly deployment of extensive trapping grids. Moreover, these methods can also be applied to the general study of species distributional changes, such as range expansion or retraction, in response to climate change or other environmental effects.


biological invasions; gypsy moth; invasion modelling; invasive species; range expansion; spread


Tobin, Patrick C.; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Roberts, E. Anderson. 2007. Comparison of methods for estimating the spread of a non-indigenous species. Journal of Biogeography. 34: 305?312.

Last updated on: January 24, 2007