Anticipating and responding to biological complexity in the effects of climate change on agriculture uri icon

abstract

  • The effects of climate change on biological systems are complex. This is particularly apparent for multispecies systems such as plant diseases and plant-herbivore interactions where climate can affect each species individually as well as influencing the interactions between species. Climate change-driven shifts in agricultural patterns and practices add another layer of complexity (Savary et al., Field Crops Res., 2005, 91:263-271). Plant diseases and insect pests have important impacts on agricultural systems; for example, agricultural losses to plant disease are estimated at over 10% (Savary et al., Ann. Rev. Phytopathol., 2006, 44:89-112). Thus, as a first step it will be important to develop an adequate conceptual framework for anticipating the biological complexity of the responses of these systems to climate change. Secondly, an adequate conceptual framework for the effects of different adaptation and mitigation scenarios, with their own complexities, will be needed to evaluate appropriate responses. Our objective is to develop frameworks to help meet this need, and here we outline a modeling structure for these components, with an emphasis on plant disease. The impact of climate, through weather patterns, on plant disease has been studied in detail for several important plant diseases (Garrett et al., Ann. Rev. Phytopathol., 2006, 44:489-509). It is possible to predict with reasonable confidence whether disease will become more or less important within a field as a function of weather variables

publication date

  • 2009
  • 2009