Archive for the ‘Ecosystem modelling’ Category

Crop-pest dynamics in the Mediterranean Basin

September 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Climate change will make assessing and managing crop-pest systems in the Mediterranean Basin more difficult than elsewhere on the globe. The Basin is in many ways a hot spot of global change, as higher than average projected climate change threatens an extremely rich and intertwined biological and cultural diversity, and increases its vulnerability to biological invasions. As a consequence, pest problems in this hot spot will require a holistic approach to deconstruct the elusive complex interactions that are the underpinning basis for sound decision making at the field level. Building on 30+ years of multidisciplinary progress inspired by pioneering work at University of California, the ENEA GlobalChangeBiology project in collaboration with CASAS Global is developing an interdisciplinary tool to mechanistically describe (i.e., model), analyze and manage agro-ecological problems based on the unifying paradigm that all organisms including humans acquire and allocate resources by analogous processes – the paradigm of ecological analogies that is holistic by design. Recent analyses using this approach show how the tool provided and will continue to provide governmental agencies with the scientific basis for building eco-social resilience to climate warming into agricultural systems across the Mediterranean Basin and elsewhere.

Ponti L., Gutierrez A.P., Iannetta M., 2016. Climate change and crop-pest dynamics in the Mediterranean Basin. ENEA Technical Report, 27: 18 pp., | Open access

Growth rates of a crop, pest and natural enemy plotted on temperature to intuitively illustrate how an increase in average temperature from T0 to T+2°C may affect the physiological basis of trophic interactions. With temperature warming, biological control of the pest may decrease due to the narrower temperature tolerance of the natural enemy compared to the pest.

GlobalChangeBiology project story published

December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

A story about the GlobalChangeBiology project was published on the Horizon 2020 website in the Projects Stories section. The European Commission DG Research had commissioned an article on the GlobalChangeBiology project for publication on the DG Research website under “success stories”. After an interview by a professional writer, the article was prepared and eventually selected for publication on the official website of the European Commission.

European Commission, 2014. Modelling climate impacts on crops and pests.

Process-based soil water balance for olive

August 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Olive is of major eco-social importance for the desertification-prone Mediterranean Basin, a climate change and biodiversity hotspot of global relevance where remarkable climate change is expected over the next few decades with unknown ecosystem impacts. However, climate impact assessments have long been constrained by a narrow methodological basis (ecological niche models, ENMs) that is correlative and hence largely omits key impact drivers such as trophic interactions and the effect of water availability. To bridge this gap, mechanistic approaches such as physiologically-based weather-driven demographic models (PBDMs) may be used as they embed by design both the biology of trophic interactions and a mechanistic representation of soil water balance. Here we report progress towards assessing climate effects on olive culture across the Mediterranean region using mechanistic PBDMs that project regionally the multitrophic population dynamics of olive and olive fly as affected by daily weather and soil water balance.

Ponti, L., Gutierrez, A.P., Basso, B., Neteler, M., Ruti, P.M., Dell’Aquila, A. and Iannetta, M., 2013. Olive agroecosystems in the Mediterranean Basin: multitrophic analysis of climate effects with process-based representation of soil water balance. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 19:122-131.

Modeling life on earth @ EuroPython 2013

July 15, 2013 Leave a comment

“Modeling life on Earth: an object-oriented challenge”, a lighting talk given at EuroPython in Florence on July 3rd, 2013. Thanks to the Python community for support.

Deconstructing the control of the spotted alfalfa aphid

May 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Control of insect pests and other taxa may be due to many factors that are difficult to separate and quantify as was the case for the control of the spotted alfalfa aphid (SAA, Therioaphis maculata Monell) in California and elsewhere. Introduced parasitoids, host plant resistance, pathogens and native predators led to its successful control, but the relative contribution of each factor remained largely unknown. The relative contribution of each control factor was estimated using a weather-driven physiologically-based demographic system model consisting of alfalfa, SAA (a), its three exotic parasitoids [Trioxys complanatus (Quilis) (b), Praon palitans Muesebeck (c), and Aphelinus semiflavus Howard (d)], a native coccinellid beetle [Hippodamia convergens (Guérin-Menéville)], a fungal pathogen [Erynia neoaphidis Remaudière & Hennebert (Zygomycetes: Entomophthorales) (g)], and host plant resistance (HPR) (h). Alone, each factor failed to control SAA, as did combinations of the parasitoids and coccinellid predation (f). Control was predicted across all ecological zones only when all mortality factors were included (i).

Gutierrez A.P., Ponti L., 2013. Deconstructing the control of the spotted alfalfa aphid Therioaphis maculata. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 15: 272-284.

Agriculture, food security and climate change in Europe

May 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The GlobalChangeBiology project is part of the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE – JPI) funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Program. The goal of FACCE – JPI is to achieve, support and promote integration, alignment and joint implementation of national resources under a common research and innovation strategy to address the diverse challenges in agriculture, food security and climate change. Partnering MACSUR, the first pilot action of FACCE – JPI that will start officially in June 2012 (see first newsletter), the GlobalChangeBiology project will provide case studies on grape and olive systems in the Mediterranean Basin. The MACSUR project is a knowledge hub that brings together 73 research groups from across Europe and will provide a detailed climate change risk assessment for European agriculture and food security, in collaboration with international projects including the GlobalChangeBiology project. As such, GlobalChangeBiology enhances the international dimensions of FACCE – JPI.

Can climate change influence olive pests and diseases?

September 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Climate change will make the Mediterranean Basin vulnerable to desertification, and this will affect many species such as olive in largely unknown ways. Olive is the base of a tri-trophic food web that includes pest, disease and their natural enemy species, each of which will be affected differently by climate change. The effects of extant weather and climate change scenarios on the tri-trophic interactions can be examined using biologically-rich physiologically-based demographic models developed from field and laboratory data. Studies from Sardinia, Italy and California show how the same model can be applied to these areas, and by inference, to other areas of the Mediterranean basin and elsewhere globally. Specifically, the model enables the examination of climate change on the range of olive and olive fly. The effect of climate change on natural enemies are illustrated using the olive scale/parasitoid interactions. The same system can also be used to examine the distribution and abundance of diseases. No model is complete, and required improvements can serve as a basis for interdisciplinary regional IPM research.

Gutierrez A.P., Ponti, L., 2009. Can climate change have an influence on the occurrence and management of olive pests and diseases? 4th European Meeting of the IOBC/WPRS Working Group “Integrated Protection of Olive Crops”, Córdoba, Spain, 1-4 June 2009. (Keynote address)