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Nairobi, Kenya

Mwalusepo S.,CHIESA Project | Mwalusepo S.,University of Dar es Salaam | Tonnang H.E.Z.,CHIESA Project | Massawe E.S.,University of Dar es Salaam | And 9 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Lepidopteran stem borers are among the most important pests of maize in East Africa. The objective of the present study was to predict the impact of temperature change on the distribution and abundance of the crambid Chilo partellus, the noctuid Busseola fusca, and their larval parasitoids Cotesia flavipes and Cotesia sesamiae at local scale along Kilimanjaro and Taita Hills gradients in Tanzania and Kenya, respectively. Temperature-dependent phenology models of pests and parasitoids were used in a geographic information system for mapping. The three risk indices namely establishment, generation, and activity indices were computed using current temperature data record from local weather stations and future (i.e., 2055) climatic condition based on downscaled climate change data from the AFRICLIM database. The calculations were carried out using index interpolator, a sub-module of the Insect Life Cycle Modeling (ILCYM) software. Thin plate algorithm was used for interpolation of the indices. Our study confirmed that temperature was a key factor explaining the distribution of stem borers and their natural enemies but other climatic factors and factors related to the top-down regulation of pests by parasitoids (host-parasitoid synchrony) also played a role. Results based on temperature only indicated a worsening of stem borer impact on maize production along the two East African mountain gradients studied. This was attributed to three main changes occurring simultaneously: (1) range expansion of the lowland species C. partellus in areas above 1200 m.a.s.l.; (2) increase of the number of pest generations across all altitudes, thus by 2055 damage by both pests will increase in the most productive maize zones of both transects; (3) disruption of the geographical distribution of pests and their larval parasitoids will cause an improvement of biological control at altitude below 1200 m.a.s.l. and a deterioration above 1200 m.a.s.l. The predicted increase in pest activity will significantly increase maize yield losses in all agroecological zones across both transects but to a much greater extent in lower areas. © 2015 Mwalusepo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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