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Keywords:

  • agricultural pests;
  • climate change;
  • degree-days;
  • global warming;
  • voltinism

Abstract

Experimental studies of the impact of climatic change are hampered by their inability to consider multiple climate change scenarios and indeed often consider no more than simple climate sensitivity such as a uniform increase in temperature. Modelling efforts offer the ability to consider a much wider range of realistic climate projections and are therefore useful, in particular, for estimating the sensitivity of impact predictions to differences in geographical location, and choice of climate change scenario and climate model projections. In this study, we used well-established degree-day models to predict the voltinism of 13 agronomically important pests in California, USA. We ran these models using the projections from three Atmosphere–Ocean Coupled Global Circulation Models (AOCGCMs or GCMs), in conjunction with the SRES scenarios. We ran these for two locations representing northern and southern California. We did this for both the 2050s and 2090s. We used anova to partition the variation in the resulting voltinism among time period, climate change scenario, GCM and geographical location. For these 13 pest species, the choice of climate model explained an average of 42% of the total variation in voltinism, far more than did geographical location (33%), time period (17%) or scenario (1%). The remaining 7% of the variation was explained by various interactions, of which the location by GCM interaction was the strongest (5%). Regardless of these sources of uncertainty, a robust conclusion from our work is that all 13 pest species are likely to experience increases in the number of generations that they complete each year. Such increased voltinism is likely to have significant consequences for crop protection and production.