Archive for the ‘Mediterranean Basin’ Category

Agrobiodiversity in a changing world

July 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Exotic species that invade new areas cause economic loss annually nearly tenfold that of natural disasters. The economic impact of such biological invasions has been considerable also in agriculture, with many major agricultural pests being invasive species, which number is expected to increase given the combined action of climate warming and globalization, particularly in the Mediterranean Basin. This region is rich in natural and agricultural biodiversity but also considerably vulnerable to biological invasions that threaten key elements of Mediterranean agro-biodiversity such as the traditional perennial crops grape and olive. Currently, most major threats to grape and olive culture are invasive species – often vector borne diseases so serious that the only control method is removal and destruction of infected crop plants. However, how to assess the potential impact of such invasive threats, and hence how to manage them, remains an unresolved and largely unexplored problem. Gaps exist between theory and management of invasive species, mostly due to a limited ability to assess their ecological and economic impact. Mechanistic process-based demographic approaches such as physiologically-based demographic models (PBDMs) have the capacity to bridge these gaps, as they address many of the shortcomings that affect mainstream methods currently used to assess invasive species under climate change.

Ponti L., Gutierrez A.P., 2015. Climate change and invasive species, with a particular focus on vine and olives. A (bio) diverse world: agro-biodiversity in a changing world, EXPO Milano 2015, Milano, Italy, 6 May 2015.

MED Solutions

July 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. SDSN is chaired by Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University (for more details see University of Siena coordinates the SDSN Regional hub for the Mediterranean (MED Solutions). The second MED Solutions conference was held in Siena on 5-6 March 2015 ( One of the four Solutions for Agri-Food Sustainability selected and presented at the conference was “SPMP-MED: A Sustainable Pest Management technological Platform for the MEDiterranean basin” (see presentation by Dr. Gianni Gilioli linked below) that includes an approach not unlike that used by the GlobalChangeBiology project. The Mediterranean basin is a biodiversity hotspot characterized by intensive and marginal farming that affect biodiversity and ecosystem services. SPMP-MED was proposed as technology for assessing sustainable local and regional pest management using weather driven models with high spatio-temporal resolution. The technology will be made available to a wide range of stakeholders.

Gilioli, G., Caroli A., Memo M., Castelli F., Ponti L., Gutierrez A.P., 2015. SPMP-MED: A Sustainable Pest Management technological Platform for the MEDiterranean basin. Second Conference of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) for the Mediterranean (MED Solutions) “Solutions for Agri-food Sustainability in the Mediterranean: Policies, Technologies and Business Models”, Siena, Italy, 5-6 March 2015.

GlobalChangeBiology in the Climate-ADAPT database

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment

The European Climate Adaptation Platform (CLIMATE-ADAPT) aims to support Europe in adapting to climate change by providing easily searchable information about expected climate change in Europe, current and future vulnerability of regions and sectors, national and transnational adaptation strategies and actions, adaptation case studies and potential adaptation options, and tools that support adaptation planning. Information is stored in a database that contains quality checked information, including reference to the GlobalChangeBiology project.

Climate-ADAPT, The European Climate Adaptation Platform, 2014. Project GlobalChangeBiology: A physiologically-based weather-driven geospatial modelling approach to global change biology: tackling a multifaceted problem with an interdisciplinary tool.

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.

Agroeocological management of invasive species

May 4, 2012 Leave a comment

During a meeting of the Italian National Academy of Entomology held in Florence on 18 February 2012, Luigi Ponti delivered a public lecture titled “Management of invasive species in the frame of an agro-ecological vision: the case study of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick)”. The talk was part of a workshop on T. absoluta where Italian research stakeholders reported on this major invasive pest problem for the Mediterranean Basin. Dr. Ponti’s talk focused on how physiologically-based weather-driven demographic models (CASAS models) integrated into a GIS may aid ecologically-based management of invasive species such as T. absoluta by sorting out the complexity of the global change biology involved. Examples of how invasive species can be assessed in the frame of an agro-ecological vision were provided and prospective applications to T. absoluta outlined along with common misunderstanding about invasive species that may be clarified using the modeling approach of the GlobalChangeBiology project.

Indice di rischio invasioni biologiche (da http:/

Sardinia olive systems in a warmer climate

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

In the Mediterranean Basin, major islands including Sardinia are considered particularly vulnerable to global warming and desertification. We used a physiologically based demographic model (PBDM) of olive and olive fly to analyze in detail this plant-pest system in Sardinia under observed weather (ten years of daily data from 48 locations), three climate warming scenarios (increases of 1, 2 and 3 °C in average daily temperature), and a 105-year climate model scenario for the Alghero (e.g. 1951-2055). GRASS GIS was used to map model predictions, and model calibration with field bloom date data was performed to increase simulation accuracy of olive flowering predictions under climate change. As climate warms, the range of olive is predicted to expand to higher altitudes and consolidate elsewhere, especially in coastal areas. The range of olive fly will extend into previously unfavorable cold areas, but will contract in warm inland lowlands where temperatures approach its upper thermal limits. Consequently, many areas of current high risk are predicted to have decreased risk of fly damage with climate warming. Simulation using a 105 year climate model scenario for Alghero, Sardinia predicts changes in the olive-olive fly system expected to occur if climate continued to warm at the low rate observed during in the past half century.

Ponti L., Cossu Q.A., Gutierrez A.P., 2009. Climate warming effects on the Olea europaea–Bactrocera oleae system in Mediterranean islands: Sardinia as an example. Global Change Biology, 15: 2874–2884.

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)