Predicting climate change effects on agriculture from ecological niche modeling: who profits, who loses?
- 1.8k Downloads
The susceptibility of agriculture to changing environmental conditions is arguably the most dangerous short-term consequence of climate change, and predictions on the geography of changes will be useful for implementing mitigation strategies. Ecological niche modeling (ENM) is a technique used to relate presence records of species to environmental variables. By extrapolation, ENM maps the suitability of a landscape for the species in question. Recently, ENM was successfully applied to predict the geographic distribution of agriculture. Using climate and soil conditions as predictor variables, agricultural suitability was mapped across the Old World. Here, I present analogous ENM-based maps of the suitability for agriculture under climate change scenarios for the year 2050. Deviations of predicted scenarios from a current conditions model were analyzed by (1) comparing relative average change across regions, and (2) by relating country-wide changes to the data indicative of the wealth of nations. The findings indicate that different regions vary considerably in whether they win or lose in agricultural suitability, even if average change across the entire study region is small. A positive relationship between the wealth of nations and change in agriculture conditions was found, but variability around this trend was high. Parts of Africa, Europe and southern and eastern Asia were predicted to be particularly negatively affected, while north-eastern Europe, among other regions, can expect more favorable conditions for agriculture. The results are presented as an independent “second opinion” to previously published, more complex forecasts on agricultural productivity and food supply variability due to climatic change, which were based on fitting environmental variables to yield statistics.
KeywordsGross Domestic Product Climate Change Effect Ecological Niche Modeling Human Population Density Climate Change Prediction
W. Schwanghart and M. Curran provided valuable comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript. M. Curran helped with the English presentation, L. Ballesteros with some aspects of modeling. Earlier work in collaboration with A. Sieber provided necessary raw data for this study. The study is part of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF Grant 31003A_119879).
- Ainsworth EA, Beier C, Calfapietra C, Ceulemans R, Durand-Tardif M, Farquhar GD, Godbold DL, Hendrey GR, Hickler T, Kaduk J, Karnosky DF, Kimball BA, Körner C, Koornneef M, Lafarge T, Leakey ADB, Lewin KF, Long SP, Manderscheid R, Mcneil DL, Mies TA, Miglietta F, Morgan JA, Nagy J, Norby RJ, Norton RM, Percy KE, Rogers A, Soussana JF, Stitt M, Weigel HJ, White JW (2008) Next generation of elevated CO2 experiments with crops: a critical investment for feeding the future world. Plant Cell Environ 31:1317–1324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Beck J (2011) Climate wars. Frontiers of Biogeography 3(3):84–85Google Scholar
- Diamond J (2006) Collapse. Viking Books, New York, 575 ppGoogle Scholar
- Dickinson JL (2009) The people paradox: self-esteem striving, immortality ideologies, and human response to climate change. Ecol Soc 14(1):34Google Scholar
- Elith J, Graham C, Anderson R, Dudik M, Ferrier S, Guisan A, Hijmans R, Huettmann F, Leathwick J, Lehmann A, Li J, Lohmann L, Loiselle B, Manion G, Moritz C, Nakamura M, Nakazawa Y, Overton J, Peterson A, Phillips S, Richardson K, Scachetti-Pereira R, Shapire R, Soberon J, Williams S, Wisz M, Zimmermann N (2006) Novel methods improve prediction of species’ distributions from occurrence data. Ecography 29:129–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Foley JA, Ramankutty N, Brauman KA, Cassidy ES, Gerber JS, Johnston M, Mueller ND, O’Connell C, Ray DK, West PC, Balzer C, Bennett EM, Carpenter SR, Hill J, Monfreda C, Polasky S, Rockstrom J, Sheehan J, Siebert S, Tilman D, Zaks DPM (2011) Solutions for a cultivated planet. Nature 478:337–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- IPCC (2001) Climate Change 2001. Third Assessment Report. Complete online versions at http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc_tar/ (accessed June 2010)
- Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Schapire RE (2006) Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol Model 190:231–259Google Scholar
- Phillips SJ, Dudik M (2008) Modeling of species distributions with Maxent: new extensions and a comprehensive evaluation. Ecography 31:161–175Google Scholar
- Reader J (1998) Africa. Biography of a continent. Penguin, London, 801 ppGoogle Scholar
- Rosenzweig C, Hillel D (2008) Climate variability and the global harvest. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 259 ppGoogle Scholar