November 30, 2016 1:58 pm
Updated: November 30, 2016 9:27 pm

Mathematics used to study pine beetle control methods

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KELOWNA – You wouldn’t think there’s a link between mathematics and mountain pine beetles but a UBC-Okanagan researcher has connected the two.

A study by associate math professor, Rebecca Tyson, used mathematical modelling to examine management strategies for trying to control the spread of the forest pest.

It found one of the methods used, pheromone baiting, may actually help increase beetle populations.

“With pheromone baiting this means that humans have put strong signals in the forest that help the beetles find each other. They can then collect in sufficient numbers to attack a tree,” said Tyson. “In these situations, baiting is making things worse for the trees.”

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The research, done over two years, looked at beetle management efforts at Banff National Park.

“From the field work done in Banff, we know that baiting didn’t stop the beetle epidemic,” says Tyson. “Baiting may have slowed it down, but it did not stop it.”

In BC, mountain pine beetles ravaged huge swaths of forest in recent years.

Clear cutting stands of infected timber was mostly used to try to stop the advance of the beetles.

But Tyson says clear cutting causes severe landscape changes without any proven positive results.

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