Future Risks of Pest Species under Changing Climatic Conditions
Most agricultural pests are poikilothermic species expected to respond to climate change. Currently, they are a tremendous burden because of the high losses they inflict on crops and livestock. Smallholder farmers in developing countries of Africa are likely to suffer more under these changes than farmers in the developed world because more severe climatic changes are projected in these areas. African countries further have a lower ability to cope with impacts of climate change through the lack of suitable adapted management strategies and financial constraints. In this study we are predicting current and future habitat suitability under changing climatic conditions for Tuta absoluta, Ceratitis cosyra, and Bactrocera invadens, three important insect pests that are common across some parts of Africa and responsible for immense agricultural losses. We use presence records from different sources and bioclimatic variables to predict their habitat suitability using the maximum entropy modelling approach. We find that habitat suitability for B. invadens, C. cosyra and T. absoluta is partially increasing across the continent, especially in those areas already overlapping with or close to most suitable sites under current climate conditions. Assuming a habitat suitability at three different threshold levels we assessed where each species is likely to be present under future climatic conditions and if this is likely to have an impact on productive agricultural areas. Our results can be used by African policy makers, extensionists and farmers for agricultural adaptation measures to cope with the impacts of climate change.