Doctor Dan Bebber, Exeter
What caused the recent outbreak of coffee leaf rust in Latin America?
Altered geographical distributions and phenology are among the clearest responses of the biosphere to recent climate change. Like other organisms, the pests and pathogens that attack agricultural crops and forests occupy particular climatic niches, and the risk of outbreaks is therefore often determined by weather conditions. Climate change should therefore influence plant disease risk, but the evidence for this is limited. A recent devastating outbreak of coffee leaf rust (Hemileia vastatrix) in Central and Latin America has been widely attributed to disease-promoting weather conditions arising due to climate change. However, other disease drivers have also been implicated, including emergence of a virulent disease strain, and altered coffee management practices. In this talk I will test the hypothesis that weather conditions, and climate change, were responsible for the recent outbreak, using data from Colombia.