AdaMedOr - Adapting Mediterranean Orchards

About Us

Fruit and nut orchards are among the most biodiverse agricultural systems in the Mediterranean region. They feature a wide range of tree species, each with a plethora of cultivars, and provide a broad palette of ecosystem services. The fruits and nuts they produce are distinct ingredients of regional cuisine and culture. After millennia of sustainable existence, climate change now threatens to upset the age-old match between the climatic needs of traditional tree crops and the local climate. Winter warming has already perturbed tree phenology, in some cases leading to complete failure to bloom and bear fruit. To meet this challenge, orchard managers need adaptation aids that enable them to select portfolios of tree cultivars that are resilient to future climates, allowing them to remain successful in a warming world. AdaMedOr will harness recent advances in phenology modelling and a wealth of phenology data to produce the first reliable framework for predicting climate change impacts on tree crops of the Mediterranean. It will characterize temperature responses of a range of tree cultivars, allowing assessments of climate-related risks to the present agrobiodiversity of Mediterranean orchards, including mismatches between pollen-donor and pollen-recipient cultivars. Spatially explicit risk analysis will be facilitated by cultivar distribution mapping and by an integrated framework to forecast cultivar-specific production risks for future climate scenarios. This information will form the basis for the participatory design of resilient cultivar portfolios, undertaken jointly by researchers, nursery managers and growers. Tools and methodologies developed by AdaMedOr will be made publically available as web interfaces and open-source analysis packages. AdaMedOr aims to lay the groundwork for further knowledge advances on tree phenology and to directly facilitate science-informed adaptation actions in Mediterranean orchards.

Period of Implementations

Jun 1, 2020 - Jun 1, 2023

Total Budget

EUR 747.906,08

OUR IMPACT

Goals

1. Assess the current agro-biodiversity of temperate fruit trees in the Mediterranean area 2. Anticipate the future performance of fruit trees based on state-of-the-art phenology modeling and climate impact projection approaches 3. Design and disseminate biodiversity portfolios that ensure resilient and sustainable fruit production for future climatic conditions

Objectives

•Assess the temperate fruit tree agro-biodiversity of the Mediterranean partner countries at the inter- and intra-specific level (e.g. richness, abundance, similarities at the species and cultivar level) •Identify and characterize genetic resources and natural mutants that may help to increase the diversity of cultivated fruit varieties, especially in terms of adaptation to future climate conditions (e.g. varieties with low chilling requirements) •Collate existing datasets that cover the phenology and agronomic performance of fruit tree species and cultivars •Use an innovative phenology modeling framework to produce phenological projection models for various fruit and nut tree species and cultivars in Germany, Spain, Tunisia and Morocco •Map current and future chill availability for fruit trees throughout the Mediterranean partner countries •Undertake controlled-climate experiments to address knowledge gaps exposed through modeling activities •Project possible future geographic distributions and viability of important Mediterranean tree species and cultivars based on climate change projections, using phenological models and ensemble niche modeling approaches •Assess farmers’ needs in stakeholder workshops using participatory processes •Draw on information produced through activities under Objectives 1 and 2, as well as on stakeholder inputs to recommend tree cultivar portfolios suitable for the target countries under projected future climate conditions •Produce automated and open-access tools for phenology modeling, climate impact projection and tree portfolio generation. This will facilitate the selection of cultivars and matching pollen-donors with similar flowering times that are well adapted to each growing area according to their chilling and heat requirements

Impact Pathway

Through our research, we will address crucial knowledge bottlenecks regarding climatic needs of trees and future agroclimatic conditions in orchards. We will determine chill and heat requirements of various tree cultivars of multiple species, which can be assembled into future-proof cultivar portfolios. Our outputs are the tools, models, analyses and projections generated during the project. Intended next users of these outputs are extension agencies, farmer associations, tree nurseries and farmers. As a major project outcome, we are aiming to make this target group consider agroclimatic needs during their work and use reliable information to contribute to the adaptation of Mediterranean orchards. To raise the chance of reaching this outcome, we include next users in our project activities, with the consortium including a major tree nursery and practice-oriented researchers in all target countries. We also include farmers directly in designing tree portfolios, to ensure that the tree cultivars we meet their needs, not just those of the researchers. Involving farmers in a participatory process will hopefully increase their ownership of the results and ensure that project outputs are not only credible and salient, but also considered legitimate in the eyes of the intended beneficiaries. The ultimate impacts that we hope to contribute to are resilient and sustainable rural livelihoods that are able to withstand the impacts of climate change.

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