, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 711-727

Weeds, Insects, and Diseases

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The geographic distribution, vigor, virulence, and agricultural impact of weeds, insects, and plant pathogens will be affected by climatic changes accompanying the global "greenhouse effect." Weed/crop competitive interactions, particularly among species differing in photosynthetic pathway (C3 v C4), may be altered, with the C3 species favored by increasing CO2. Physiological and biochemical changes induced in host crop plants by rising CO2 may affect feeding patterns of pest insects. Compilation of climatic thresholds for phenological development of pest insects reveals the potential for shifts in pest behavior induced by global warming and other climatic change. Generation times may be reduced, enabling more rapid population increases to occur. Poleward migration may be accelerated during the crop season. The epidemiology of plant diseases also will be altered. Prediction of disease outbreaks will be more difficult in periods of rapidly changing climate and unstable weather. Environmental instability and increased incidence of extreme weather may reduce the effectiveness of pesticides on targeted pests or result in more injury to non-target organisms. Biological control may be affected either negatively or positively. Overall, the challenge to agriculture from pests probably will increase.