Purdue University Graduate School
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Resistance surface modeling of the spongy moth, Lymantria dispar (Lepidoptera: Erebidae) along the invasion front

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posted on 2022-04-29, 02:22 authored by Laura Nicole SutherlandLaura Nicole Sutherland


Invasive species are a prominent problem throughout the world due to the high economic and ecological impact they have on environments. The spongy moth, Lymantria dispar, is a well-known and intensely studied invasive species within the United States because of the high environmental (e.g., defoliation) and economic (e.g., management efforts) costs. Originally introduced in Massachusetts in 1869 their range now covers much of the Northeast and Midwest, with the potential to disperse much further. 

The goal of this study is to determine how the landscape has influenced L. dispar’s invasion rate through least-cost resistance modeling. Resistance modeling is a technique that combines the biology of L. dispar and landscape connectivity to potentially explain the invasion rate. Landscape connectivity has varying effects on invasion dynamics depending on the spatial scale. Monitoring efforts for L. dispar have occurred at a small spatial scale throughout the entire range for many years, which now provides the opportunity to look at invasion dynamics at small spatial scales. Identifying the landscape’s influence on invasion dynamics at these scales can assist in targeting management efforts to areas that have a high likelihood of being invaded soon based on the landscape connectivity within the area. This targeted management strategy can potentially help to slow L. dispar’s establishment and dispersal ability and reduce management and monitoring costs.


Collaborative Research: A Landscape Resistance Mapping Approach to Understanding Species Invasion Patterns

Directorate for Biological Sciences

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Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Entomology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jeffrey Holland

Additional Committee Member 2

Elizabeth Long

Additional Committee Member 3

John Couture

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