Posts

Why radiation use efficiency is lower in super high-density than in high-density olive orchards

Image
We quantified the photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) interception in a high-density (HD) and a super high-density (SHD) or hedgerow olive system, by measuring the PAR transmitted under the canopy along transects at increasing distance from the tree rows. Transmitted PAR was measured every minute, then cumulated over the day and the season. The frequencies of the different PAR levels occurring during the day were calculated. SHD intercepted significantly but slightly less overall PAR than HD (0.57 ± 0.002 vs. 0.62 ± 0.03 of the PAR incident above the canopy) but had a much greater spatial variability of transmitted PAR (0.21 under the tree row, up to 0.59 in the alley center), compared to HD (range: 0.34–0.43). This corresponded to greater variability in the frequencies of daily PAR values, with the more shaded positions receiving greater frequencies of low PAR values. The much lower PAR level under the tree row in SHD, compared to any position in HD, implies greater self-shading

Bio-economics of Indian hybrid Bt cotton and farmer suicides

Image
Background. The implementation of hybrid Bt cotton unique to India has been heralded as a grand success by government agencies, seed companies and other proponents, and yet yields have stagnated at low levels and production costs have risen 2.5–3-fold. The low-yield hybrid cotton system of India contributes thousands of farmer suicides to the annual national toll. Conceptual and methodological barriers have hindered bioeconomic analysis of the ecological and social sustainability of such cross-scale agro-ecological problems in time and geographic space, under global technology and climate change. As a paradigm shift, we use conceptually simple, parameter-sparse, theoretically based, mechanistic, weather-driven physiologically based demographic models (PBDMs) to deconstruct the bio-economics of the Indian cotton system. Results. Our analysis of Indian hybrid cotton system explains some extant ecological and economic problems, and suggests a viable solution. Specifically, the model accur

Thermal biology of Tuta absoluta: demographic parameters and facultative diapause

Image
The South American tomato pinworm, Tuta absoluta , (SATP) is now a devastating pest worldwide of crops in the family Solanaceae. Most prior studies of SATP’s thermal biology were based on populations from tropical regions, and proved unsuitable for explaining its invasion of large areas of the Palearctic. A more holistic approach to the analysis of its thermal biology is essential background for developing models to assess its invasive potential. Our studies found that SATP has lower and upper thermal thresholds (θ L  = 5.37 °C and θ U = 35.69 °C, respectively) than South American populations used in prior studies (θ L = 7.38 °C and θ U = 33.82 °C). Age-specific life tables were used to estimate the effects of temperature on its demographic parameters. Diapause in SATP had not been characterized prior to our study. We found facultative diapause in pupae developing from larvae exposed to relatively low temperatures (i.e., 2 and 5 °C) and short-day length for different exposure period

Bio-economic analysis of coffee berry borer control

Image
 Coffee, after petroleum, is the most valuable commodity globally in terms of total value (harvest to coffee cup). Here, our bioeconomic analysis considers the multitude of factors that influence coffee production. The system model used in the analysis incorporates realistic field models based on considerable new field data and models for coffee plant growth and development, the coffee/coffee berry borer (CBB) dynamics in response to coffee berry production and the role of the CBB parasitoids and their interactions in control of CBB. Cultural control of CBB by harvesting, cleanup of abscised fruits, and chemical sprays previously considered are reexamined here to include biopesticides for control of CBB such as entomopathogenic fungi (Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae) and entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernema sp., Heterorhabditis). The bioeconomic analysis estimates the potential of each control tactic singly and in combination for control of CBB. The analysis explains why

Improving light modeling in agroforestry systems

Image
By averaging in time and/or space, models predict less variable light patterns under tree canopies than in reality. We measured light every minute in 24 positions in a grid under different chestnut orchards, for several clear and overcast days. We also modelled this light with a purposely created 3D, spatially explicit, ray-tracing light interception model, where canopy porosity was calibrated to match measured daily light. Finally, we used both the measured and modeled light patterns transmitted under the tree canopies to estimate the daily net photosynthesis (An) and radiation use efficiency (RUE) of an understory wheat leaf. As expected, modeled light was more uniform than measured light, even at equal daily light. This resulted in large overestimation of daily An and RUE of the understory leaf. Averaging light in time increased the overestimations even further. A sensitivity analysis showed that this overestimation remained substantial over the range of realistic values for leaf ph

Long-distance dispersal boosts Xylella epidemics

Image
Outbreaks of a plant disease in a landscape can be meaningfully modelled using networks with nodes representing individual crop-fields, and edges representing potential infection pathways between them. Their spatial structure, which resembles that of a regular lattice, makes such networks fairly robust against epidemics. Yet, it is well-known how the addition of a few shortcuts can turn robust regular lattices into vulnerable ‘small world’ networks. Although the relevance of this phenomenon has been shown theoretically for networks with nodes corresponding to individual host plants, its real-world implications at a larger scale (i.e. in networks with nodes representing crop fields or other plantations) remain elusive. Focusing on realistic spatial networks connecting olive orchards in Andalusia (Southern Spain), the world’s leading olive producer, we show how even very small probabilities of long distance dispersal of infectious vectors result in a small-world effect that dramatically

Establishment and impact of tiger mosquito in Europe

Image
The Asian tiger mosquito ( Aedes albopictus ) is one of the most invasive disease vectors worldwide. The species is a competent vector of dengue, chikungunya, Zika viruses and other severe parasites and pathogens threatening human health. The capacity of this mosquito to colonize and establish in new areas (including temperate regions) is enhanced by its ability of producing diapausing eggs that survive relatively cold winters. The main drivers of population dynamics for this mosquito are water and air temperature and photoperiod. In this paper, we present a mechanistic model that predicts the potential distribution, abundance and activity of Asian tiger mosquito in Europe. The model includes a comprehensive description of: i) the individual life-history strategies, including diapause, ii) the influence of weather-driven individual physiological responses on population dynamics and iii) the density-dependent regulation of larval mortality rate. The model is calibrated using field data