College of Food, Ag & Nat Res Sci
The emerald ash borer is an invasive wood-boring beetle in North America that attacks our native ash trees. It was discovered in the U.S. in the early 2000s, likely having been brought over in wood packaging material from China. Since its introduction, it has been spreading across the U.S. and Canada and is causing significant mortality to ash trees.
These researchers are trying to predict the future of ash on the North American landscape based on available data and the population dynamics of emerald ash borer. They are developing computer simulations to achieve these goals, which will increase their ability to effectively monitor and detect emerald ash borer in places it has not yet arrived. The group is developing two models. The first is an agent-based model that simulates the interactions of ash, emerald ash borer, and other factors that are important modulators of these interactions. The second model couples an agent-based model of insect movement with non-linear Bayesian statistical models to try to estimate the effective attraction radius of pheromones used in baited traps. The researchers aim to evaluate this modeling framework in the context of the simulation to discover how assumptions about insect movement behavior affect the modeling results. These results will help them design more efficient trapping networks that maximize the area covered by baited pheromone traps while minimizing overlap. The simulation models are being developed in R and the statistical models are being run in R using the R interface with the Stan programming language.