Finding the Environmental Limitations of a Native Pest in a Changing Climate

Problem Title

Finding the Environmental Limitations of a Native Pest in a Changing Climate

Scientific Title

Impact of Climate Change on Cold Tolerance and Overwintering Mortality of a Gall Wasp Pest, Zapatella davisae

Student: 
Emily Mooshian
Major(s): 
Biology
iCons Concentration: 
Biomedicine/Biosystems
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2017
Executive Summary 

Climate change’s effect on the world has taken many forms. Most people recognize them as more extreme weather patterns, melting icecaps, and a rising ocean. A lesser-known change is that rising temperatures have led to an increased ability for native and non-native insect pests to expand their natural ranges northward. These expansions can have detrimental effects on areas unfit for the insect, and one of the only ways to help preserve these areas is to be proactive and know that it is going to happen before it does. This could eventually be the case with the black oak gall wasp, Zapatella davisae, a native pest of the Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard areas. The wasp has invaded and damaged the black oak tree population in an environment where black oaks are one of the primary species of the landscape. I am looking to determine the supercooling point, or the temperature at which the species can no longer tolerate the cold, of Z. davisae over the duration of the winter. Using that information along with local weather data and GIS mapping software, I will determine locations in the New England region where the insect could potentially expand to in the near future.

Problem Keywords: 
climate change
insect pests
Scientific Keywords: 
Zapatella davisae
overwintering mortality