Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Brooks, Christopher P.

Committee Member

Brown, Richard L.

Committee Member

Ervin, Gary N.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


I used a theoretical model to determine the conditions under which Cactoblastis cactorum populations would be expected to experience positive population growth. Results from simulations suggest that host species richness, host quality, and the C. cactorum death rate interact to determine the probability of C. cactorum positive population growth. I also studied the influence of host diversity empirically. Cactoblastis cactorum prevalence was significantly higher when O. stricta was present in the community. Also, higher species richness within host assemblages led to a higher prevalence of infestation than in single-species host assemblages. Finally, I explored cooccurrence patterns of native cactuseeding insects in an effort to document the impact of C. cactorum to native insect assemblages. The presence of C. cactorum in a community did not appear to affect the structure of native cactuseeding insect assemblages.



species co-occurrence||prickly pear cacti||Opuntia||null model||net reproductive rate||Melitara prodenialis||invasive species||insect herbivore||host quality||Dactylopius||biodiversity||Cactoblastis cactorum||Chelinidea vittiger||amplification effect