Archived Project: The cryptic invasion of California by tropical fruit flies
Mentor: James Carey (Entomology)
**This project is no longer offered**
The broad goal of this project is to conduct exploratory statistical and spatial analysis of the data on invasive species of economically-important fruit flies in California. The database is unique because it is one of the largest (>11,000 individuals) and most comprehensive (100% of individual fruit flies detected in California involving 17 close-related fruit fly species), detailed (e.g. latitude-longitude for each of 11,000 individuals captured), longest term (approx 60 years starting in 1954), and costly (>$1 billion) database assembled for any invasive species or group. One of the central concepts for analysis is what is referred to in cancer research is the "rare-event detection" problem. For example, in a given year of trapping with the monitoring grid consisting of 100,000 traps, only 1 or 2 adult flies of a given species might be detected in a 2 or 3 different locations from San Diego through Sacramento. The challenge is to connect and make sense of what is going on with these rare-event dots. Preliminary ideas for data analyses and student projects include: (1) depicting statistical hotspots and constructing at-risk contours for fly detections based on historical patterns; (2)testing hypotheses concerned with various aspects of invasions. For example, most species first appear in the south state and then in the north state 5-10 years later but nowhere in between. (3)create a spatial animation of historical spread.