Projected climate changes are expected to decrease the suitability and production of olive varieties in southern Spain.

Affiliation

IFAPA, Alameda del Obispo, Avda. Menéndez Pidal s/n, 14004 Córdoba, Spain. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

World olive production is based on the cultivation of different varieties that respond differently to abiotic factors. Climate change may affect the area of land suitable for olive cultivation and change production levels, thus causing serious damage to this economically-relevant and highly-productive olive grove agroecosystem. In Mediterranean regions such as Andalusia, one of the main areas of olive production, the effect of climate change seems threatening. Thus, our main aims are: (1) to examine the abiotic factors that characterise the current cultivated locations and predict the current and potential distribution of these locations; (2) to evaluate the effect of climate change (based on regional scenarios) on the future environmental suitability of each olive variety; and (3) to analyse the expected alteration in the annual olive production. We used the seven most-productive olive varieties in Andalusia and the wild olive species to develop Species Distribution Models (SDMs), coupled with soil properties, geomorphology, water balance and (bio-)climatic predictors at a fine scale. We also derived future climate projections to assess the effect of climate change on the environmental suitability and productivity of each olive variety. We found that soil pH was the most-important factor for most distribution models, while (bio-)climatic predictors - such as continentality index, summer and autumn precipitation and winter temperature - provided important contributions. In general, projections based on regional climate change scenarios point to a decrease in the area suitable for olive crops in Andalusia, due to an increase in evapotranspiration and a decrease in precipitation. These changes in suitable area are also projected to decrease olive production for almost all the olive-growing provinces investigated. Our findings may anticipate the effects of climate change on olive crops and provide early estimates of fruit production, at local and regional scales, as well as forming the basis of adaptation strategies.

Keywords

Climate change,Drought,Environmental suitability,Olive production,Olive tree,Species distribution models,

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