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Disentangling the effects of feedback structure and climate on Poaceae annual airborne pollen fluctuations and the possible consequences of climate change

AuthorsGarcía de León, David ; García-Mozo, Herminia; Galán, Carmen ; Alcázar, Purificación; Lima, Mauricio; González-Andújar, José Luis
KeywordsDynamic system
Annual Pollen Index
Mediterranean area
Climate change scenarios
Issue Date15-Oct-2015
CitationScience of the Total Environment 530-531: 103-109 (2015)
AbstractPollen allergies are the most common form of respiratory allergic disease in Europe. Most studies have emphasized the role of environmental processes, as the drivers of airborne pollen fluctuations, implicitly considering pollen production as a random walk. This work shows that internal self-regulating processes of the plants (negative feedback) should be included in pollen dynamic systems in order to give a better explanation of the observed pollen temporal patterns. This article proposes a novel methodological approach based on dynamic systems to investigate the interaction between feedback structure of plant populations and climate in shaping long-term airborne Poaceae pollen fluctuations and to quantify the effects of climate change on future airborne pollen concentrations. Long-term historical airborne Poaceae pollen data (30 years) from Cordoba city (Southern Spain) were analyzed. A set of models, combining feedback structure, temperature and actual evapotranspiration effects on airborne Poaceae pollen were built and compared, using a model selection approach. Our results highlight the importance of first-order negative feedback and mean annual maximum temperature in driving airborne Poaceae pollen dynamics. The best model was used to predict the effects of climate change under two standardized scenarios representing contrasting temporal patterns of economic development and CO2 emissions. Our results predict an increase in pollen levels in southern Spain by 2070 ranging from 28.5% to 44.3%. The findings from this study provide a greater understanding of airborne pollen dynamics and how climate change might impact the future evolution of airborne Poaceae pollen concentrations and thus the future evolution of related pollen allergies.
Publisher version (URL)http://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.104
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