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Ambrosia pollen source inventory for Italy: a multi-purpose tool to assess the impact of the ragweed leaf beetle (Ophraella communa LeSage) on populations of its host plant


Here, we produce Ambrosia pollen source inventories for Italy that focuses on the periods before and after the accidental introduction of the Ophraella communa beetle. The inventory uses the top–down approach that combines the annual Ambrosia pollen index from a number of monitoring stations in the source region as well as Ambrosia ecology, local knowledge of Ambrosia infestation and detailed land cover information. The final inventory is gridded to a 5 × 5-km resolution using a stereographic projection. The sites with the highest European Infection levels were recorded in the north of Italy at Busto Arsizio (VA3) (European Infection level 2003–2014 = 52.1) and Magenta (MI7) (European Infection level 2003–2014 = 51.3), whereas the sites with the lowest (i.e. around 0.0) were generally located to the south of the country. Analysis showed that the European Infection level in all of Italy was significantly lower in 2013–2014 compared to 2003–2012, and this decrease was even more pronounced at the sites in the area where Ophraella communa was distributed. Cross-validations show that the sensitivity to the inclusion of stations is typically below 1% (for two thirds of the stations) and that the station Magenta (MI7) had the largest impact compared to all other stations. This is the first time that pollen source inventories from different temporal periods have been compared in this way and has implications for simulating interannual variations in pollen emission as well as evaluating the management of anemophilous plants like Ambrosia artemisiifolia.

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We acknowledge support from EU COST Action FA1203 ‘Sustainable management of Ambrosia artemisiifolia in Europe (SMARTER)’ ( This work was partly financed by the following COST Short-Term Scientific Missions: COST-STSM-FA1203-020215-053027 to CT, COST-STSM-FA1203-20573 to BS, COST-STSM-FA1203-250415-058150 to MS. BS was financed by the Ministry of Science Republic of Serbia (project no. OI173002 and III43006) and Swiss National Science Foundation (project no. IZ73Z0_152348). CAS was supported by the European Commission through a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant (Project ID CIG631745).

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Correspondence to Branko Šikoparija.

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Bonini, M., Šikoparija, B., Skjøth, C.A. et al. Ambrosia pollen source inventory for Italy: a multi-purpose tool to assess the impact of the ragweed leaf beetle (Ophraella communa LeSage) on populations of its host plant. Int J Biometeorol 62, 597–608 (2018).

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  • Aerobiology
  • Atmosphere-biosphere analysis
  • Digital elevation model
  • Ecosystem analysis
  • Invasive weed
  • Species distribution maps