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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, THE
Doing Business As Name:University of Chicago
PD/PI:
  • Gregory Dwyer
  • (773) 834-7691
  • gdwyer@uchicago.edu
Co-PD(s)/co-PI(s):
  • Eyal Frank
Award Date:06/15/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 328,466
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 328,466
  • FY 2021=$328,466
Start Date:07/01/2021
End Date:06/30/2023
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:OPUS: Understanding How Climate Change Will Alter the Ability of Pathogens to Control Gypsy Moth Populations, and the Consequences for Forest Economics
Federal Award ID Number:2043796
DUNS ID:005421136
Parent DUNS ID:005421136
Program:Population & Community Ecology
Program Officer:
  • Diana Pilson
  • (703) 292-0000
  • dpilson@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:6054 South Drexel Avenue
City:Chicago
State:IL
ZIP:60637-2612
County:Chicago
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Chicago
Street:6054 South Drexel Avenue
City:Chicago
State:IL
ZIP:60637-2612
County:Chicago
Country:US
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

When they think of infectious diseases, most people think of diseases like covid-19 or HIV that have big negative effects on people and the economy. Few are aware that infectious diseases also keep pest insects in check, by killing insects before they can destroy forests. The gypsy moth is a classic example. Gypsy moth populations are held in check by a fungus disease that can kill more than 90% of gypsy moth caterpillars in a single spring. Since the fungus disease was introduced in 1989, gypsy moth defoliation has been very low, reducing the costs of gypsy moth attacks by millions of dollars every year. The fungus needs cool, moist conditions, however, and so the hotter, drier conditions that climate change is bringing to the US may lead to a gypsy moth comeback. Before the fungus was introduced, a virus disease killed many gypsy moths, but whether the virus can control gypsy moths in the future is unknown. This project asks, what will be the economic costs of a gypsy comeback, and can a virus comeback reduce these costs? Results will be presented to forest managers for input and refinement, and will be used to inform management decisions. Additionally, a graduate student and a technician will be trained in population and economic modeling. To answer these questions, the researchers will use a combination of ecological field experiments, infectious disease modeling, and economic modeling. They will use field experiments to estimate key parameters of their disease model, notably the severity of competition between the virus and the fungus, and how this competition depends on weather. The researchers will then extend their disease model to describe long-term virus-fungus competition, and the extent to which the virus can replace the fungus as climate change leads to hotter and drier climates. To understand the economic consequences of virus-fungus competition, the researchers will first parameterize regression models that quantify the economic costs of gypsy moth defoliation. They will then insert the predictions of climate change models into their virus-fungus competition models to predict how climate change will affect gypsy moth defoliation. The final step will be to quantify the costs of climate change on gypsy moths by inserting the model predictions of defoliation levels into the economic models. This work will provide a rare quantification of the effects of climate change on a species interaction, and of the economic costs of such effects. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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