A process-based approach to modelling impacts of climate change on the damage niche of an agricultural weed


Correspondence: Jonathan Storkey, tel. + 44 0 1582 763 133, fax + 44 0 1582 760 981, e-mail:


Predicting the impact of climate change on the damage niche of an agricultural weed at a local scale requires a process-based modelling approach that integrates local environmental conditions and the differential responses of the crop and weed to change. A simulation model of the growth and population dynamics of winter wheat and a competing weed, Sirius 2010, was calibrated and validated for the most economically damaging weed in UK cereals, Alopecurus myosuroides. The model was run using local-scale climatic scenarios generated by the LARS-WG weather generator and based on the HadCM3 projections for the periods 2046–2065 and 2080–2099 to predict the impact of climate change on the population dynamics of the weed and its effect on wheat yields. Owing to rising CO2 concentration and its effect on radiation use efficiency of wheat, weed-free wheat yields were predicted to increase. The distribution of the weed was predicted to remain broadly similar with a possible northward shift in range. Local-scale variation in the impact of climate change was apparent owing to variation in soil type and water holding capacity. The competitive balance was shifted in favour of the deeper rooted crop under climate change, particularly on sites with lighter soils, owing to more frequent and severe drought stress events. Although the damage niche of A. myosuroides was predicted to reduce under climate change, it is likely that weeds with contrasting physiology, such as C4 species, will be better adapted to future conditions and pose a more serious threat.