MAIN CONCLUSION: Orphan crops can contribute to building resilience of marginal cropping systems as a climate chnage adaptation strategy. Orphan crops play an important role in global food and nutrition security, and may have potential to contribute to sustainable food systems under climate change. Owing to reports of their potential under water scarcity, there is an argument to promote them to sustainably address challenges such as increasing drought and water scarcity, food and nutrition insecurity, environmental degradation, and employment creation under climate change. We conducted a scoping review using online databases to identify the prospects of orphan crops to contribute to (1) sustainable and healthy food systems, (2) genetic resources for future crop improvement, and (3) improving agricultural sustainability under climate change. The review found that, as a product of generations of landrace agriculture, several orphan crops are nutritious, resilient, and adapted to niche marginal agricultural environments. Including such orphan crops in the existing monocultural cropping systems could support more sustainable, nutritious, and diverse food systems in marginalised agricultural environments. Orphan crops also represent a broad gene pool for future crop improvement. The reduction in arable land due to climate change offers opportunities to expand the area under their production. Their suitability to marginal niche and low-input environments offers opportunities for low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from an agro-ecosystems, production, and processing perspective. This, together with their status as a sub-set of agro-biodiversity, offers opportunities to address socio-economic and environmental challenges under climate change. With research and development, and policy to support them, orphan crops could play an important role in climate-change adaptation, especially in the global south.
Ephemeral wetlands in arid regions are often degraded or destroyed through poor land-use practice long before they are ever studied or prioritized for conservation. Climate change will likely also have implications for these ecosystems given forecast changes in rainfall patterns in many arid environments. Here, we present a conceptual diagram showing typical and modified ephemeral wetlands in agricultural landscapes and how modification impacts on species diversity and composition.
This study accounts for the Hicks neutral technical change in a calibrated model of climate analysis, to identify the optimum level of technical change for addressing climate changes. It demonstrates the reduction to crop damages, the costs to technical change, and the net gains for the adoption of technical change for a climate-sensitive Pakistan economy. The calibrated model assesses the net gains of technical change for the overall economy and at the agriculture-specific level. The study finds that the gains of technical change are overwhelmingly higher than the costs across the agriculture subsectors. The gains and costs following technical change differ substantially for different crops. More importantly, the study finds a cost-effective optimal level of technical change that potentially reduces crop damages to a minimum possible level. The study therefore contends that the climate policy for Pakistan should consider the role of technical change in addressing climate impacts on the agriculture sector.
The extent of Dipterocarp rainforests on the emergent Sundaland landmass in Southeast Asia during Quaternary glaciations remains a key question. A better understanding of the biogeographic history of Sundaland could help explain current patterns of biodiversity and support the development of effective forest conservation strategies. Dipterocarpaceae trees dominate the rainforests of Sundaland, and their distributions serve as a proxy for rainforest extent. We used species distribution models (SDMs) of 317 Dipterocarp species to estimate the geographic extent of appropriate climatic conditions for rainforest on Sundaland at the last glacial maximum (LGM). The SDMs suggest that the climate of central Sundaland at the LGM was suitable to sustain Dipterocarp rainforest, and that the presence of a previously suggested transequatorial savannah corridor at that time is unlikely. Our findings are supported by palynologic evidence, dynamic vegetation models, extant mammal and termite communities, vascular plant fatty acid stable isotopic compositions, and stable carbon isotopic compositions of cave guano profiles. Although Dipterocarp species richness was generally lower at the LGM, areas of high species richness were mostly found off the current islands and on the emergent Sunda Shelf, indicating substantial species migration and mixing during the transitions between the Quaternary glacial maxima and warm periods such as the present.
Dematiaceous fungi (black fungi) are a heterogeneous group of fungi present in diverse environments worldwide. Many species in this group are known to cause allergic reactions and potentially fatal diseases in humans and animals, especially in tropical and subtropical climates. This study represents the first survey of dematiaceous fungi in Malaysia and provides observations on their diversity as well as in vitro response to antifungal drugs. Seventy-five strains isolated from various clinical specimens were identified by morphology as well as an internal transcribed spacer (ITS)-based phylogenetic analysis. The combined molecular and conventional approach enabled the identification of three classes of the Ascomycota phylum and 16 genera, the most common being Cladosporium, Cochliobolus and Neoscytalidium. Several of the species identified have not been associated before with human infections. Among 8 antifungal agents tested, the azoles posaconazole (96%), voriconazole (90.7%), ketoconazole (86.7%) and itraconazole (85.3%) showed in vitro activity (MIC ≤ 1 µg/mL) to the largest number of strains, followed by anidulafungin (89.3%), caspofungin (74.7%) and amphotericin B (70.7%). Fluconazole appeared to be the least effective with only 10.7% of isolates showing in vitro susceptibility. Overall, almost half (45.3%) of the isolates showed reduced susceptibility (MIC >1 µg/mL) to at least one antifungal agent, and three strains (one Pyrenochaeta unguis-hominis and two Nigrospora oryzae) showed potential multidrug resistance.
In South-East Asian dipterocarp forests, many trees synchronize their reproduction at the community level, but irregularly, in a phenomenon known as general flowering (GF). Several proximate cues have been proposed as triggers for the synchronization of Southeast Asian GF, but the debate continues, as many studies have not considered geographical variation in climate and flora. We hypothesized that the spatial pattern of GF forests is explained by previously proposed climatic cues if there are common cues for GF among regions. During the study, GF episodes occurred every year, but the spatial occurrence varied considerably from just a few forests to the whole of Peninsular Malaysia. In 2001, 2002 and 2005, minor and major GF occurred widely throughout Peninsular Malaysia (GF2001, GF2002, and GF2005), and the geographical patterns of GF varied between the episodes. In the three regional-scale GF episodes, most major events occurred in regions where prolonged drought (PD) had been recorded prior, and significant associations between GF scores and PD were found in GF2001 and GF2002. However, the frequency of PD was higher than that of GF throughout the peninsula. In contrast, low temperature (LT) was observed during the study period only before GF2002 and GF2005, but there was no clear spatial relationship between GF and LT in the regional-scale episodes. There was also no evidence that last GF condition influenced the magnitude of GF. Thus, our results suggest that PD would be essential to trigger regional-scale GF in the peninsula, but also that PD does not fully explain the spatial and temporal patterns of GF. The coarse relationships between GF and the proposed climatic cues may be due to the geographical variation in proximate cues for GF, and the climatic and floristic geographical variations should be considered to understand the proximate factors of GF.
Dengue is a climate-sensitive infectious disease. Climate-based dengue early warning may be a simple, low-cost, and effective tool for enhancing surveillance and control. Scientific studies on climate and dengue in local context form the basis for advancing the development of a climate-based early warning system. This study aims to review the current status of scientific studies in climate and dengue and the prospect or challenges of such research on a climate-based dengue early warning system in a dengue-endemic country, taking Malaysia as a case study.
The impacts of global change on tropical forests remain poorly understood. We examined changes in tree growth rates over the past two decades for all species occurring in large (50-ha) forest dynamics plots in Panama and Malaysia. Stem growth rates declined significantly at both forests regardless of initial size or organizational level (species, community or stand). Decreasing growth rates were widespread, occurring in 24-71% of species at Barro Colorado Island, Panama (BCI) and in 58-95% of species at Pasoh, Malaysia (depending on the sizes of stems included). Changes in growth were not consistently associated with initial growth rate, adult stature, or wood density. Changes in growth were significantly associated with regional climate changes: at both sites growth was negatively correlated with annual mean daily minimum temperatures, and at BCI growth was positively correlated with annual precipitation and number of rainfree days (a measure of relative insolation). While the underlying cause(s) of decelerating growth is still unresolved, these patterns strongly contradict the hypothesized pantropical increase in tree growth rates caused by carbon fertilization. Decelerating tree growth will have important economic and environmental implications.
The role of science and technology (S&T) in preventing disasters and building resilience to climate change is featured in this paper, drawing primarily on the presentations and discussion of researchers, practitioners and policy makers from 31 institutions in 17 countries during the Workshop on Natural Disasters and Climate Change in Asia, held on 5–7 November 2012 in Bangi, Malaysia. Issues highlighted include advances in climate modelling and weather forecasts, with emphasis on information gaps; hazards and its cascading effects, focusing on current research and approaches; and the potential for land-based mitigation-adaptation strategies. Progress in mobilizing S&T to support disaster prevention and climate resilience is hindered by factors such as absence or lack of research, incomplete and non-existent scientific records, restricted access to data and capacity to innovate and transmit S&T, among others. The establishment of an Asian Network for Climate Science and Technology is proposed to provide and facilitate exchange of information and aid development of research co-ordination projects led by Asian researchers and possibly to act as a one-stop repository of global climate change related research too. The scope of the network would cover climate research with particular relevance to disaster resilience, including scientific capacity, which is all very distinct in Asia.
In Oceania, a region challenged by rapid urbanisation and climate change, integrative frameworks are required to enable effective actions on health and sustainability. The Ecohealth approach provides a framework for practice that acknowledges human health is intrinsically linked to ecosystem health. This research communication reports on a study involving interviews with twenty-seven leading health and sustainability thinkers from Oceania and across the globe. In examining their ideas for action, the report presents the study findings in relation to the guiding principles of Ecohealth: systems thinking, transdisciplinarity, participation, sustainability, equity and knowledge-to-action. Implications for Ecohealth practitioners working in Oceania are considered.
Accurate estimation of tree biomass is necessary to provide realistic values of the carbon stored in the terrestrial biosphere. A recognized source of errors in tree aboveground biomass (AGB) estimation is introduced when individual tree height values (H) are not directly measured but estimated from diameter at breast height (DBH) using allometric equations. In this paper, we evaluate the performance of 12 alternative DBH : H equations and compare their effects on AGB estimation for three tropical forests that occur in contrasting climatic and altitudinal zones. We found that fitting a three-parameter Weibull function using data collected locally generated the lowest errors and bias in H estimation, and that equations fitted to these data were more accurate than equations with parameters derived from the literature. For computing AGB, the introduced error values differed notably among DBH : H allometric equations, and in most cases showed a clear bias that resulted in either over- or under-estimation of AGB. Fitting the three-parameter Weibull function minimized errors in AGB estimates in our study and we recommend its widespread adoption for carbon stock estimation. We conclude that many previous studies are likely to present biased estimates of AGB due to the method of H estimation.
Topography is a key driver of tropical forest structure and composition, as it constrains local nutrient and hydraulic conditions within which trees grow. Yet, we do not fully understand how changes in forest physiognomy driven by topography impact other emergent properties of forests, such as their aboveground carbon density (ACD). Working in Borneo - at a site where 70-m-tall forests in alluvial valleys rapidly transition to stunted heath forests on nutrient-depleted dip slopes - we combined field data with airborne laser scanning and hyperspectral imaging to characterise how topography shapes the vertical structure, wood density, diversity and ACD of nearly 15 km2 of old-growth forest. We found that subtle differences in elevation - which control soil chemistry and hydrology - profoundly influenced the structure, composition and diversity of the canopy. Capturing these processes was critical to explaining landscape-scale heterogeneity in ACD, highlighting how emerging remote sensing technologies can provide new insights into long-standing ecological questions.
We compared climatic distribution ranges between Aedes albopictus (Skuse) (Diptera: Culicidae) and the five wild (nondomesticated) species of Albopictus Subgroup of Scutellaris Group of Aedes (Stegomyia) in southern Asia. Distribution sites of the wild species concentrate in seasonal forest and savannah climate zones in India, Indochina, and southern China. The distribution of Ae. albopictus is broader than the wild species under 1) tropical rain-forest climate, 2) steppe and temperate savannah climate, and 3) continental climate with large seasonal temperature variation (hot summer and cold winter) at temperate lowlands (northernmost sites 40°N in Ae. albopictus vs 32°N in the wild species). However, the distribution of Ae. albopictus is more limited at tropical and subtropical highlands where the climate is cool but less continental (small seasonal variation, mild summer, and winter). We discuss a possibility that the broader climate ranges of Ae. albopictus are ecological or eco-evolutionary consequences of adaptation to human habitats. We also propose a general scenario for the origin, dispersal, and adaptation of Ae. albopictus in Asia as a hypothesis for future research.
Studies reveal that climate change (CC) has higher negative impacts on agricultural production than positive impacts. Therefore, this article attempts to explore the impacts of CC on oil palm production in Malaysia and provides mitigation and adaptation strategies towards reducing such impacts. The multiple regression analysis is applied to assess the impacts of CC on oil palm production by using time series data in the period of 1980 to 2010. A negative and significant relationship is found between annual average temperature and oil palm production. If temperature rises by 1 °C, 2 °C, 3 °C, and 4 °C, production of oil palm can decrease from a range of 10 to 41%. This article has also found a negative impact of sea level rise (SLR) on oil palm production. Findings reveal that if areas under oil palm production decrease by 2%, 4%, and 8% due to SLR of 0.5, 1, and 2 m, oil palm production can decrease by 1.98%, 3.96%, and 7.92%, respectively, indicating that CC has a significant impact on the reduction of oil palm production in Malaysia, ultimately affecting the sustainability of oil palm sector in Malaysia. Finally, this study suggests to practice appropriate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including promotion and development of climate resilient varieties, soil and water conservation, afforestation, insurance and other risk transfer mechanisms, emission reduction technology, protection of coastal flooding for reducing the impacts of CC on oil palm production.