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Computational modeling of tritrophic interactions in biological pest control

Grant number: 19/26071-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2020
Effective date (End): January 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Plant Health
Cooperation agreement: Koppert Brasil
Principal Investigator:José Roberto Postali Parra
Grantee:Adriano Gomes Garcia
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:18/02317-5 - Center for Excellence in Biological Control, AP.PCPE

Abstract

With the growing demand for novel strategies of pest management that reduce the use of agrochemicals and concomitantly, increase crop production more sustainably, biological control, using predators and parasitoids, is gaining ground. However, unsuccessful programs of biological control has occurred because of the lack of understanding about the complexity of the biological interactions. As the biological control depends on the interactions established between organisms of different trophic levels and the environment, the results can be unpredictable, and the detailed study of tritrophic interactions (natural enemies, herbivores and plants) becomes necessary, as well as the role of abiotic factors in these interactions.One of the biggest concerns among researchers is the identification of suitable areas and periods for the release of natural enemies. Among the possible metrics used for decision-making, abiotic factors, such as temperature and relative humidity, have played an important role on the determination of spatial occurence of different insects in agriculture systems based on their thermal and moisture requirements, combining biology studies and GIS (Geographic Information System). Such approaches are extremely important for the biological control and meet the mission and goals of the Center for Excellence in Biological Control giving support to at least two lines of research proposed in the main project: i) Evaluation of the risks and benefits of Biological Control; and ii) Strategies for using Biological Control in IPM. Thus, the objective of this post-doctoral fellowship is focused on the development of computational and mathematical models to describe the spatial distribution of insect pests and their natural enemies, resulting in new technologies to support biological control programs applied in brazilian crops, using GIS and mathematics approaches.