Investigating the spatial-environmental drivers of sweet potato crop devastation by Herpetogramma hipponalis in the Solomon Islands

Authors: Camera Ford*, American Museum of Natural History, Mary Blair, American Museum of Natural History, Ned Horning, American Museum of Natural History, Peter Galante, American Museum of Natural History
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Human-Environment Geography, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: spatial modeling, garden pest, community agriculture, Solomon Islands
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: Download


Over the last decade the population of the insect Herpetogramma hipponalis in the Solomon Islands’ Western Province has seemingly surged, leading to devastation of the sweet potato crops grown there. The majority of the population of the Solomon Islands relies on localized agriculture and family garden plots in order to maintain a semi-subsistence lifestyle. Because having a robust diet depends heavily on healthy crop production from these garden plots, pest management is an important factor in preserving community health in rural areas of the Solomon Islands such as Western Province. Drawing on spatial and environmental data from 80 garden plots across four distinct communities, we explore the correlations between pest occurrence (and in some cases abundance) and landscape metrics calculated from Worldview-2 satellite imagery such as plot clustering, plot size, and plot distance to roads and forest edge. The next step is to build a mechanistic model that describes the potential drivers of the Herpetogramma hipponalis population increase using the pest abundance data and landscape metrics. This analysis is a framework for studying pest-environment interactions in the Solomon Islands and can be adapted to other locations facing similar issues. In addition, the model can be continuously improved with updated environmental and pest abundance data.

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