A Conceptual Framework for the Spruce Budworm Early Intervention Strategy: Can Outbreaks be Stopped?


The spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana, Clem., is the most significant defoliating pest of boreal balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) and spruce (Picea sp.) in North America. Historically, spruce budworm outbreaks have been managed via a reactive, foliage protection approach focused on keeping trees alive rather than stopping the outbreak. However, recent theoretical and technical advances have renewed interest in proactive population control to reduce outbreak spread and magnitude, ie, the Early Intervention Strategy (EIS). In essence, EIS is an area-wide management program premised on detecting and controlling rising spruce budworm populations (hotspots) along the leading edge of an outbreak. In this article, we lay out the conceptual framework for EIS, including all of the core components needed for such a program to be viable. We outline the competing hypotheses of spruce budworm population dynamics and discuss their implications for how we manage outbreaks. We also discuss the practical needs for such a program to be successful (eg, hotspot monitoring, population control, and cost–benefit analyses), as well as the importance of proactive communications with stakeholders. View Full-Text

Erik Emilson
Erik Emilson
Research Scientist, Watershed Ecology Team Lead, Associate Editor CJFR

I am interested in how forests support freshwater ecosystem services. My research combines microbial and molecular approaches to undertand how forest productivity and disturbances affect ecosystem functions in headwater streams and lakes.