RESEARCH

Current research projects

Modelling of Dubas Bug Habitat and Population Density in Oman Based on Associations with Human, Environmental and Climatological Factors

Funded by Oman Research Council, $690,000.

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Summary: Climatological and environmental conditions are very important in determining the distribution and survival of any species, both plants and animals, and the same applies to the Dubas bug. Understanding the distribution and affinity of the bug to variables can play a key role in mapping, control and management, including resource allocation (spray teams, field personnel, etc.).

This research will use tools and techniques available in modern spatial analysis packages, such as Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing, to model and develop spatial links and correlations between presence/absence/density of Dubas bugs with climatological, environmental and human factors and conditions. It will develop GIS layers that give the density and distribution of the bug infestation levels and the stress observed in the date palms, and link them with rainfall patterns, humidity, wind direction, temperature, soil salinity, irrigation practices, farming practices, etc. to investigate correlates. It will also investigate whether soil types, geology, aspect, slope, elevation and available solar radiation play any part in enhancing the development, survival and spread of the Dubas bug. The project will also use combinations of some of these variables, such as the humid-thermal index (HTI) to gain an understanding of preferred environments of the Dubas bug. This research will start off by using single variables to develop correlations and then move onto more complicated predictive models and regression analysis where we incorporate all factors to investigate what combinations of factors are the most conducive to the survival and spread of the bugs.

The project will use modern geostatistical techniques and statistics to look at hot spots and clustering of the bugs and investigate why they are clustered in certain regions/conditions. These techniques will help to identify the most important variables or combinations of variables that help the Dubas bug develop, prosper and migrate.

The project will also use remote sensing tools and satellite images to develop early detection techniques for the Dubas Bug at broad scales. It will use satellite images to map the spatial distribution of the bug, and possibly do this on a temporal scale as well to see the directions and speed of spread. The output, especially the spatial distribution and spread images, will be used as inputs to the GIS-based predictive models.

This project will also look at issues such as:

1. Human-related factors, such as aerial spraying. It will be of value to gather aerial and ground insecticide spraying data for the past 10 to 20 years and correlate these with current bug densities and densities of key natural enemies.

2. Cultural practices such as planting distance, irrigation, fertilization, pruning and sanitation should be also considered in any model to explain distribution and density of the Dubas Bug.

3. Biotic factors such as species and densities of natural enemies (predators, parasitoids, parasites, and pathogens). Even if the environment and climate is conducive, but there is significant mortality due to natural enemies then Dubas bug densities will effectively be lower.

4. It will use modern geostatistical techniques and statistics such as Geary’s Index, Morans I, Getis- Ord Gi*, Ripley’s K-Function, etc. to look at hot spots and clustering of the bugs and investigate why they are clustered in certain regions/conditions. These techniques will help to identify the most important variables or combinations of variables that help the Dubas bug develop, prosper and migrate. Once the factors and combinations of factors have been identified it will then use these to develop predictive models that will be able to give the probability of occurrence, spatial distribution and densities under different environmental, climatological and resource availability conditions.

These models then could be used to forecast the spatial distribution and densities of the bugs under prevailing conditions at the beginning of each bug season. These results in-turn could be used for management purposes and for decision making as to where to direct resources for preventive action. A second, but linked, part of this project will use remote sensing tools and satellite images to develop early detection techniques for Dubas bug at broad scales. We will use images such as Quickbird (both panchromatic and multispectral) and/or the new 8-band WorldView images to map the spatial distribution of the bug, and possibly do this on a temporal scale as well to see the directions and speed of spread. We intend to use the new hyperspectral remote sensing techniques to develop early pre-visual detection of the Dubas bug. The output, especially the spatial distribution and spread images, will be used as inputs to the GIS-based predictive models.

More information about this project can be found in the following links and documents.

Al Shidi, R.A., Kumar, L., Al Khatri, S.A.H., Albahri, M.M., Alaufi, M.S. (2018) Relationship of Date Palm Tree Density to Dubas Bug Ommatissus lybicus Infestation in Omani Orchards. Agriculture 2018, 8(5), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8050064

Al Shidi, R.A., Kumar, L., Al Khatri, S.A.H., Alaufi, M.S., Albahri, M.M. (2018) Does solar radiation affect the distribution of Dubas bug, Ommatissus lybicus de Bergevin, infestation in Oman. Agriculture 2018, 8(7), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture8070107 

Shabani, F., Kumar, L., Al Shidi, R.A., (2018) Impacts of climate change on infestations of Dubas bug (Ommatissus lybicus Bergevin) on date palms in Oman. PeerJ 6:e5545 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5545

Al Shidi, R.A., Kumar, L., Al Khatri, S.A.H. (2019) Detecting Dubas Bug Infestations using High Resolution Multispectral Satellite Data in Oman. Computers in Electronics and Agriculture, 157(2019): 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2018.12.037

Al Shidi, R.A., Kumar, L., Al Khatri, S.A.H., Al-Ajmi, N. (2019) Ommatissus lybicus Infestation in Relation to Spatial Characteristics of Date Palm Plantations in Oman. Agriculture, 9(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture9030050

Al Shidi, R., Kumar, L., Al-Khatri, S. (2019). Humid-Thermal Index for a New Management Approach of Ommatissus lybicus. Pest Management Science, https://doi.org/10.1002/ps.5422

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Regional Coastal Susceptibility Assessment for the Pacific Islands

Funded by the Commonwealth of Australia
Collaborators: Professor Patrick Nunn, Professor Roger McLean, Dr Ian Eliot

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Summary: A major objective of this report was to develop a regional assessment of Pacific Island sensitivity to projected climate change as a component of the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning (PACCSAP) program. The PACCSAP Program is intended to help partner countries and their communities better understand and respond to climate associated impacts. Past vulnerability and adaptation studies in the Pacific Islands region have focused on individual islands or specific areas within islands. There have been few regional studies or studies spanning all islands in the region. This project differs from the local area or single-island assessments in two important respects. First, the assessment refers specifically to the inherent physical characteristics of islands and coast as a first step to a conventional vulnerability assessment. And second, people and infrastructure are not included in the broad scale analyses we present. What this means is that the project is limited to identifying the inherent susceptibility of islands and island coasts to physical change and their sensitivity to present and projected climate and ocean processes. In this context Susceptibility is seen as a comparative estimate of the potential magnitude of physical change in island form and structure in response to a change in climate-ocean boundary conditions.

More information about this project can be found in the following links and documents.

Nunn, P.D., Kumar, L., Eliot, I., McLean, R.F. (2016) Classifying Pacific islands. Geoscience Letters. 3: 7. DOI: 10.1186/s40562-016-0041-8

Kumar, L., Eliot, I., Nunn, P., Stul, T., McLean, R. (2018) An indicative index of physical susceptibility of small islands to coastal erosion induced by climate change: An application to the Pacific Islands. Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk, 9:1, 691-702. DOI:10.1080/19475705.2018.1455749. https://doi.org/10.1080/19475705.2018.1455749

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Exposure of Coastal Assets to Climate Risks – Rapid Assessment

Funded by the Commonwealth of Australia

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The location and construction of buildings, infrastructure and roads in coastal areas can contribute to the vulnerability of communities to coastal hazards and extreme events. Climate change, particularly sea-level rise, is likely to increase the exposure of these assets, and communities’ vulnerability. Drawing on the database compiled as part of the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI), a rapid analysis of the exposure of coastal infrastructure was undertaken for fourteen Pacific Island countries, including Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The results of the analysis indicate that 57% of all assessed built infrastructure is within 500m of the coast for the Pacific island countries. Nine percent, 11%, 16% and 21% fall within the 0-50 m, 50-100 m, 100- 200m and 200-500m intervals. The total replacement value of all built infrastructure assessed was US$27.7 billion, of which 79% by value fall within 500mof the coast.

More information about this project can be found in the following links and documents.

Kumar, L., Taylor, S. (2015) Exposure of coastal built assets in the South Pacific to climate risks. Nature Climate Change, 5: 992-996. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2702.

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Climate Change Impacts on the Himalayan Region of Nepal

Collaborators: Pramod Lamsal, Dr Kishor Atreya

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Mountains are accepted as fragile ecosystems that occur worldwide and occupy 25% of the global earth surface. Almost 28% of the global forest cover is found in mountains. Rapid elevational changes, topography, and their combined effects on atmospheric air flow causes this region to experience large climatic variations within small spatial extents. The Himalayas, 2500km long and 250-400km wide, are the source of large river basins and numerous ecosystem services for downstream communities. However, the Himalayas has been warming at a greater rate than the global average and this is impacting on the flora and fauna of the region. The adaptation period is much shorter and hence the impacts seen are much greater. The aim of this study is to assess how the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau landscape will change under future climate through analysing the climate change response of nine native plant species. The objective is to identify the current climate envelope and model future changes of climatic suitablity of these species using CLIMEX software incorporating the CSIRO-MK3.0 (CS) and MIROC-H (MR) global distribution models with A1B (RCP 6.0) and A2 (RCP 8.5) SRES.

More information about this project can be found in the following links and documents.

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Shabani, F., Atreya, K. (2017) The greening of the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau under climate change. Global and Planetary Change, 159(2017): 77-92. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2017.09.010

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Atreya, K., Pant, K. (2017) Vulnerability and impacts of climate change on forest and freshwater wetland ecosystems in Nepal: A review. Ambio, DOI 10.1007/s13280-017-0923-9

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Atreya, K. (2017) Historical evidence of climatic variability and changes, and its effect on high altitude regions: insights from Rara and Langtang, Nepal. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504509.2016.1198939

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Aryal, A., Atreya, K. (2018) Invasive alien plant species dynamics in the Himalayan region under climate change. Ambio, DOI: 10.1007/s13280-018-1017-z http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13280-018-1017-z

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Aryal, A. Atreya, K. (2018) Future climate and habitat distribution of Himalayan Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster). Ecological Informatics, 44: 101-108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoinf.2018.02.004.

Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Atreya, K. and Pant, K.P. (2018) Forest ecosystem services in Nepal: a review of research status, and predictions in the context of climate change. International Forestry Review, 20(4):506-537. https://doi.org/10.1505/146554818825240647

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Mapping and Evaluating Long-Term Changes in Mangrove Species Composition and Distribution in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh

Collaborators: Manoj Kumar Ghosh, Dr Chandan Roy

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The Sundarbans mangrove forest is an extremely important resource for the people of the Ganges Delta and it plays an important role in the local as well as global ecosystem by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants from air and water, offering protection to millions of people in the Ganges Delta against cyclone and water surges, stabilizing the shore line, trapping sediment and nutrients, purifying water, and providing services for human beings, such as fuel wood, medicine, food, and construction materials. However, this mangrove ecosystem is under threat, mainly due to climate change and anthropogenic factors. Anthropogenic and climate change-induced degradation, such as over-exploitation of timber and pollution, sea level rise, coastal erosion, increasing salinity, effects of increasing number of cyclones and higher levels of storm surges function as recurrent threats to mangroves in the Sundarbans. The mangrove cover in the region has been changing, mainly as a result of climate change induced changes in water salinity as well as accretion due to erosion and deposition. This project utilizes satellite imagery to map the current distribution of mangroves in the Sundarban and compares it to detailed records of 25 years back. The observed changes are explained in terms of particular mangrove species preferences (more or less salt tolerant), as well as changes in water levels and accretion. Soil cores obtained from multiple sites are being analysed to determine C14 age to link with deposition rates. Fine scale aerial photographs are being processed to determine changes in the canal widths and closure of other small channels due to accretion.

More information about this project can be found in the following links and documents.

Ghosh, M.K., Kumar, L., Roy, C. (2017) Climate Variability and Mangrove Cover Dynamics at Species Level in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Sustainability, 9, 805; doi:10.3390/su9050805.

Ghosh, M., Kumar, L., Roy, C. (2016) Mapping long term changes in the mangrove species composition and distribution in the Sundarbans. Forests, 7, 305. doi:10.3390/f7120305

Ghosh, M., Kumar, L., Roy, C. (2015) Monitoring the Coastline Change of Hatiya Island in Bangladesh using Remote Sensing Techniques. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, 101: 137-144. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2014.12.009

Ghosh, M.K., Kumar, L., Langat, P. (2018) Mapping Tidal Channel Dynamics in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh, between 1974 and 2017, and Implications for the Sustainability of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 190(10):582. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-018-6944-4

Ghosh, M.K., Kumar, L., Langat, P.K. (2019) Geospatial modelling of the inundation levels in the Sundarbans mangrove forests due to the impact of sea level rise and identification of affected species and regions. Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk, 10(1): 1028-1046. https://doi.org/10.1080/19475705.2018.1564373

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Impacts of climate change on farming systems and farm management in coastal areas of Bangladesh

Collaborators: Md Kamrul Hasan

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Agriculture is fundamentally responsive to global climate change that can lead to crops facing heat stress, drought, waterlogging and changes in pests, pathogens and weeds. As a result, farmers are likely to experience a decrease in crop yield. The climate defines farming systems. Therefore, the impact of climate change is an inevitable alarm for farming activities. It implies the urgency of rescaling the farm management and farming systems to keep up with climate change.

Climate projections indicate a remarkable change in atmospheric conditions in the 21st century which will be largely unfriendly to agriculture. A more pressing warning is that future climate change may extend beyond the range of farmers’ experience. However, climate change impact assessment on individual crops alone cannot provide a clear picture of the impacts on farming systems. Accordingly, this research project addresses the following questions:
• What are the changes that have taken place in farming systems and farm management due to climate change?
• What could be the future farming systems and farm management strategies to a changing climate?

More information about this project can be found in the following links and documents.

Hasan, K., Kumar, L. (2019) Comparison between meteorological data and farmer perceptions of climate change and vulnerability in relation to adaptation. Journal of Environmental Management, 237(2019): 54-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.02.028

Hasan, M.K., Kumar, L., Desiere, S., D’Haese, M. (2018) Impact of climate-smart agriculture adoption on food security of coastal farmers in Bangladesh. Food Security, 10(4): 1073-1088. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12571-018-0824-1

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