Data from: Combined effects of natural enemies and competition for resources on a forest defoliator: a theoretical and empirical analysis
Gallagher, Molly Elizabeth; Dwyer, Greg (2019), Data from: Combined effects of natural enemies and competition for resources on a forest defoliator: a theoretical and empirical analysis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.tf0s1qg
Explanations for the dynamics of insect outbreaks often focus on natural enemies, on the grounds that parasitoid and pathogen attack rates are high during outbreaks. While natural enemy models can successfully reproduce outbreak cycles, experiments have repeatedly demonstrated the importance of resource quality and abundance. Experiments, however, are rarely invoked in modeling studies. Here we combine mechanistic models, observational data, and field experiments to quantify the roles of parasitoid attacks and resource competition on the jack pine budworm, Choristoneura pinus. By fitting models to a combination of observational and experimental data, we show that parasitoid attacks are the main source of larval budworm mortality at low and intermediate budworm densities, but that resource competition is the main source of mortality at high densities. Our results further show that the effects of resource competition become more severe with increasing host tree age, and that the effects of parasitoids are moderated by strong competition between parasitoids for hosts. Allowing for these effects in a model of insect outbreaks leads to realistic outbreak cycles, while a host-parasitoid model without resource competition produces an unrealistic stable equilibrium. The effects of resource competition are modulated by tree age, which in turn depends on fire regimes. Our model therefore suggests that increases in fire frequency due to climate change may interact in complex ways with budworm outbreaks. Our work shows that resource competition can be as important as natural enemies in modulating insect outbreaks, while demonstrating the usefulness of high-performance computing in experimental field ecology.