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Agriculture depends on the manipulation of plants and animals to provide food, fuel, or fiber. Identifying the biological drivers that underpin agriculture enables CIAT and co-workers to greatly reduce the risks to rural livelihoods in an uncertain global environment.

For further information contact: GIS Communications

Put simply, knowing where an organism is, why is it there, what it does there, and what it is likely to do under future conditions can be invaluable in our efforts to identify where wild plants live and how cultivated plants perform. But very few locations within the developing world provide enough information to enable us to know. Thus we are obliged to use scientific principles to lever information from the few sites we do know about to guess what might happen at those for which we have insufficient information.


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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Conservation and Use of Plant Genetic Resources

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Andy Jarvis

MarkSim and FloraMap

MarkSim™ represents the culmination of over 25 years of world-class research to solve this problem, by simulating high-resolution, daily weather data for the entire pan-tropical region. It does this on the basis of the statistical characterization (Markov simulation) of data from 11,000 weather stations worldwide, and estimating similar values for each 18-km grid cell. The MarkSim method has been rigorously tested, and has now been released as a Windows® commercial version on CD-ROM with a 96-page users' manual.

FloraMap™ predicts the geographic distribution, or areas of possible adaptation, of natural organisms when little or nothing is known of their detailed physiology. FloraMap thus cuts much of the guesswork, legwork, and costs typically involved in tracking down species of plants and other organisms in the wild. The Windows application is especially useful to plant breeders, who increasingly look to wild species as a source of new genetic material. It is based on the assumption that the climatic characteristics of sites where the species has already been collected are a good indicator of its environmental range.

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Impact of Climate Change on Agricultural Production

We are working on studies that allow the prediction of potential impact of climate changes on agricultural production systems, to focus the research to combat these effects, and to identify the probable reaction of the agricultural and animal production systems that face them.

An example of this work is a study on maize in Africa and Latin America, whose preliminary results present a complex image. Although some areas benefit from climate change, they are relatively small highland areas. Even though rainfall increases in some areas, the lowland regions generally show a fall in yields and greater yield instability. Some areas will become almost completely unsuitable for growing maize.


CIAT in Perspective
Risky Farming in a Hotter World


The potential impacts of climate change on maize production in Africa and Latin America in 2055 - SecienceDirect

Biogeography of Wild Peanut Genetic Resources

This analysis permits the development of stable strategies for the conservation and use of this genetic resource, whose importance derives from being the wild relative of a commercial crop.

The conservation status of wild Arachis spp. is not well characterized for its maintenance and possible future exploitation for the improvement of cultivated peanut, Arachis hypogaea (L.).

Our objectives were to use 2175 georeferenced observations of wild peanut (Arachis spp.) to assess the conservation status of the genus, and to biologically and geographically prioritize future conservation actions.

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Patterns of Plant Diversity in Tropical Forests

CIAT is participating in this project led by the HERB Project from King's College London, with the objective of understanding the drivers behind the generation of plant diversity in tropical forests. We are using spatial models, developed from ecological principles, and aerial imagery to monitor and model the distribution of diversity. It is hoped that methods for a priori diversity analysis will help target inventory and in situ conservation initiatives. These models are being developed in the cloud forest of Reserva Tambito, Cauca, Colombia, and in the Amazonian forest of Tiputini Biodiversity Reserve, Napo, Ecuador.



Plants of Tambito I. Dicotiledonous. A Preliminary List
(738 Kb)

Supporting Ex Situ Collection of Wild Chilli in Paraguay: Using GIS to Prioritize Areas to Visit

This research theme makes use of FloraMap to prioritize an ex situ collection of germplasm of a rare wild chilli (Capsicum flexuosum) in Paraguay. Climate was used to predict the potential distribution based on the 19 observations that have been made of this species. Only two of these are germplasm collections, and the rest herbarium specimens. The predicted distribution is further refined through use of land cover data to locate forest edges where this wild chilli is known to be found. The final map defines priority locations along roads where USDA and IPGRI biologists may find this species. A collecting mission was made based upon these predictions in March 2002, and collected six new populations of this species, all but one in areas where the GIS predictions showed high priority. This increased the amount of germplasm collections for this important species fourfold. We are now analyzing these results in detail to further improve our a priori distribution modeling of important species.

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Mapping Adaptive Genetic Diversity

Understanding the spatial distribution of genetic diversity within a species range is of considerable importance to conservation and sustainable wildlife management. Genetic diversity provides the basis for both adaptation to changing environmental conditions and to future evolutionary change. As such, its conservation is an essential part of more general programs to protect biodiversity.

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