CR 43:229-239 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr00930

Desert locust populations, rainfall and climate change: insights from phenomenological models using gridded monthly data

Jamie A. Tratalos1, Robert A. Cheke1,*, Richard G. Healey2, Nils Chr. Stenseth3

1Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich at Medway, Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB, UK
2Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth, Buckingham Building, Lion Terrace, Portsmouth PO1 3HE, UK
3Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), Department of Biology, University of Oslo, PO Box 1066, Blindern 0316, Oslo, Norway

ABSTRACT: Using autocorrelation analysis and autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) modelling, we analysed a time series of the monthly number of 1º grid squares infested with desert locust Schistocerca gregaria swarms throughout the geographical range of the species from 1930–1987. Statistically significant first- and higher-order autocorrelations were found in the series. Although endogenous components captured much of the variance, adding rainfall data improved endogenous ARIMA models and resulted in more realistic forecasts. Using a square-root transformation for the locust data improved the fit. The models were only partially successful when accounting for the dramatic changes in abundance which may occur during locust upsurges and declines, in some cases successfully predicting these phenomena but underestimating their severity. Better fitting models were also produced when rainfall data were added to models of an equivalent series for desert locust hoppers (nymphs) that incorporated lagged data for locust swarms as independent variables, representing parent generations. The results are discussed in relation to predicting likely changes in desert locust dynamics with reference to potential effects of climate change.


KEY WORDS: Schistocerca gregaria · Time series · Population dynamics · Endogenous · Rainfall


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Cite this article as: Tratalos JA, Cheke RA, Healey RG, Stenseth NC (2010) Desert locust populations, rainfall and climate change: insights from phenomenological models using gridded monthly data. Clim Res 43:229-239. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr00930

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