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Modelling Crop Yield Loss to Insect Pests in a Warming Climate

Sunday Ekesi of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya and Josh Tewskbury of Future Earth in the U.S. will model the effects of climate change on major food crops and their insect pests to better forecast crop yields and inform intervention strategies. The changing climate will likely have a multitude of effects on both insect-pest populations, by affecting their size and activity, and on crop physiology, which together will affect yield. They will dissect these complex interactions focusing on maize, which is the main staple food in Kenya, and a major maize-pest, and use a phytotron (enclosed research greenhouse) to evaluate the effects of the current climate, and a range of projected climates, on insect feeding rates and crop levels. These data will then be used in a process-based dynamic modelling approach to develop robust mathematical models that can make accurate predictions on crop loss caused by the climate.

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