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How pest insects might adapt to climate change, affecting agriculture and health
Date:5/12/2010

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Entomologist Peter Atkinson will give a free, public lecture at the University of California, Riverside on May 20 in which he will discuss the evidence for climate change and the impact pest insects have had on it through recorded history.

Titled "Tipping the Scales? Pest Insects, Agriculture and Health," the hour-long lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Room 302, Highlander Union Building, formerly the Commons. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. Seating is open.

In his talk, Atkinson, a professor of entomology and the director of the Center for Disease Vector Research at UC Riverside, will explain what makes an insect a pest, and how we can now begin to measure genetic diversity in insect populations in order to try and predict how successful a given species or population might adapt to climate change.

"There is no doubt that climate change is occurring and will have profound impacts on future generations," he said. "Understanding how insects adapt, and the molecular basis of this adaptation, will be important if we are to maintain our food supply and health.

"There is considerable debate as to how climate change will affect the distribution of insects, especially pest insects. History does tell us, however, that changes in pest insect distribution, for whatever reason, can have profound effects on agriculture and health. So we need to "get ahead" of the question and determine, using data, the likelihood of climate change affecting the distribution of given pest species."

At UCR, Atkinson develops genetic-based technologies and tools that help reduce the ability of insects to transmit human diseases such as malaria and dengue. Specifically, he works on the fundamental agents of evolution called
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert

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