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Future climate scenarios project a decrease in the risk of fall armyworm outbreaks

  • N. Y. Z. RAMIREZ-CABRAL (a1) (a2), L. KUMAR (a1) and F. SHABANI (a1)

Spodoptera frugiperda, or the fall armyworm (FAW) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is an endemic and important agricultural pest in America. Several outbreaks have occurred with losses estimated at millions of dollars. Insects are affected by climate factors, and climate change may affect geographical range, growth rate, abundance, survival, mortality, number of generations per year and other characteristics. These effects are difficult to project due to the complex interactions among insects, hosts and predators. The aim of the current research is to project the impact of climate change on future suitability for the expansion and final range of FAW as well as highlight the risk of damage due to the pest under current and future conditions. The modelling was carried out using two general circulation models (GCMs), CSIRO Mk3.0 and MIROC-H, for 2050 and 2100 under the A2 Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), using the known distribution of the species and the CliMond meteorological database. The possible number of generations was estimated to exceed five in the south-eastern USA by 2100. A unique modelling approach linking environmental suitability and number of generations was developed to project the risks of FAW damage. The results show changes in suitability and risk across America, with an increase in the northern hemisphere and decreases or extinction in the southern hemisphere, except for southern Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and northern Argentina, which indicate high future levels of risk. The current study highlights the possible extinction of a tropical pest in areas near the Equator. The two GCMs both projected increases in the low-risk category of 40% by 2050 and 23% by 2100, with the medium- and high-risk categories decreasing by >50% by 2050 and >39% by 2100, compared with the current risk. In general, agricultural pest management may become more challenging under future climate change and variation, and thus, understanding and quantifying the possible impacts of FAW under future climate conditions is essential for the future economic production of crops.

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