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Resilience to climate change in agricultural systems

June 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Climate change is impacting agroecosystems widely. Ecological connectivity makes regions more resilient and hence helps conserve biodiversity and combat climate change, while ecologically sound analysis and management help keep agroecosystems alive. In this context, a bioeconomic approach may help guide the integration of natural and human systems. In Umbria, the origin of this approach was the opening lecture of TreviNatura (Trevi, Italy 25-27 October 2015) delivered by Professor Andrew P. Gutierrez (CASAS Global) and titled  “The economy of nature and humans: the role of ecosystem services” that illustrated the often conflicting interaction between humans and nature, and how this interaction can be best understood using bioeconomics, with ecosystem services playing a central role. The region of Umbria in Central Italy is particularly amenable to developing and implementing a holistic approach to the integrated management of agricultural and natural ecosystems, because this region has pioneered biodiversity conservation and management at both national and European level, and it is about to deploy a third improved version of its Regional Ecological Network. Notably, the local environmental protection agency ARPA Umbria is committed to a systemic vision of the environment where the different components (e.g., agricultural, natural, urban) interact in complex ways and hence may not be managed separately. This commitment will build capacity by developing specific research projects, higher education, and training. The Workshop “Biodiversity for ecologically based resilience to climate change in agricultural systems” was a key step for developing a Summer School on Agroecology, to be held during 2018 at the Polvese Island’s Research Center for Climate Change and Biodiversity in Wetlands and Lakes (see the draft program for the Center).

Workshop – Biodiversity for ecologically based resilience to climate change in agricultural systems. Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, University of Perugia, Italy, 31 May 2017. Program and info

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New agroecology book in Italian

November 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Agroecology: a viable agricultural path for a planet in crisis. It is now clear that humanity needs an alternative agricultural development paradigm, one that encourages more ecologically, biodiverse, resilient, sustainable and socially just forms of agriculture. The basis for this new systems are the myriad of ecologically based agricultural styles developed by over a billion smallholders, family farmers and indigenous people on hundreds of millions of small farms which currently produce most of the global agricultural output for domestic consumption largely without agrochemicals. Agroecology is this paradigm: a dialogue between traditional agricultural knowledge and modern agricultural science that uses ecological concepts and principles for designing and managing sustainable agroecosystems in which external inputs are replaced by natural processes such as natural soil fertility and biological control. This book explains why agroecology is the most robust food provisioning pathway for humanity to take in the twenty-first century under current and predicted and difficult climate, energy, financial and social scenarios.

Altieri M.A., Nicholls C.I., Ponti L., 2015. Agroecologia: una via percorribile per un pianeta in crisi. Edagricole, Bologna. 336 pp. | Get book from publisher

Categories: agroecology, Food security

Holistic approach in invasive species research

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

The Mediterranean Basin is a climate change and biological invasion hotspot where recent warming is facilitating the establishment and spread of invasive species, one of which is the highly destructive South American tomato leafminer (Tuta absoluta). This pest recently invaded the Mediterranean Basin where it threatens solanaceous crops. Holistic approaches are required to project the potential geographic distribution and relative abundance of invasive species and hence are pivotal to developing sound policy for their management. This need is increasing dramatically in the face of a surge in biological invasions and climate change. However, while holistic analyses of invasive species are often advocated, they are rarely implemented. We propose that physiologically-based demographic models (PBDMs) in the context of a geographic information system (GIS) can provide the appropriate level of synthesis required to capture the complex interactions basic to manage invasive species such as T. absoluta. We review the PBDMs for two invasive flies, and use them as a basis for assessing the biological data available for the development of a PBDM for T. absoluta, and in the process identify large data gaps that using the PBDM as a guide can be easily filled. Other components for an ecologically-based management program for this pest (habitat modification, natural and classical biocontrol, pheromones, and others) are also reviewed. The development of a PBDM for T. absoluta would provide the basis for an interdisciplinary agroecological synthesis of the problem and the role different control tactics would play in region-specific control of the pest.

Ponti L., Gutierrez A.P., Altieri M.A., 2015. Holistic approach in invasive species research: the case of the tomato leaf miner in the Mediterranean Basin. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21683565.2014.990074 | Get a free reprint

PBDM sub-models used for all species in all trophic levels.