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A study by researchers at the ICTA-UAB analyses the reasons why environmentally-minded scientists find it difficult to give up meat consumption, one of the world's greatest environmental problems.

La gestión del verde urbano permite incrementar la presencia de pájaros en las ciudades

Incrementar la biodiversidad del verde urbano permitiría aumentar la presencia de aves paseriformes en las ciudades mediterráneas, según un estudio científico realizado por investigadores del Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Ambientales de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) que analiza qué estrategias hay que implementar sobre la vegetación urbana para conseguir "naturalizar" las ciudades favoreciendo la entrada de flora y fauna.

The Ebro River annually dumps 2.2 billion microplastics into the sea

An ICTA-UAB study analyses the distribution and accumulation of microplastics from one of the main rivers of the western Mediterranean.

European project to support rooftop greenhouses projects

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El ICTA-UAB participa en el proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos

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A warmer ocean will lead to 17% reduction in global marine animal biomass, by the end of the century

Climate change will affect the distribution and abundance of marine life, but the full extent of these changes under future warming has been difficult to predict due to the limitations of individual ecosystem models used for such forecasts.

New study dismisses green growth policies as a route out of ecological emergency

Researchers from ICTA-UAB and the Goldsmiths University of London suggest that emissions reduction is only compatible with a lower economical degrowth or a degrowth scenario.

New cross-boundary approach for addressing wicked weed problems

Weed species continue to spread and management costs continue to mount, in spite of best management practices and efforts by research and extension personnel who promote them to land managers.

Urban green spaces do not benefit the health of all

In general, the creation of parks and green spaces in urban centers has positive effects on the health of city residents.

ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé receives an ERC Advanced Grant

ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé has been awarded an Advanced Grant (AdvGr) from the European Research Council (ERC) to develop the project "New geochemical approach to reconstruct tropical palaeo-atmospheric dynamics" (PALADYN).

Urban Agriculture on Rooftops Provides Healthy, Fresh and Sustainable Food

​The implementation of urban gardens on building rooftops could produce fresh, healthy and sustainable agricultural food and guarantee the food sovereignty of cities, which are becoming increasingly populated.

Indigenous knowledge, key to a successful ecosystem restoration

Ecological restoration projects actively involving indigenous peoples and local communities are more successful. This is the result of a study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).

Future changes in human well-being more likely to depend on Social Factors than Economic Factors

The changes in the perception of personal well-being that could take place in the next three decades, on a global level, depend much more on social factors than on economic ones.

Success at ICTA-UAB: Six ERC Grants In Three Years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded six European Research Council (ERC) grants in three years, from the end of 2015 to the end of 2018. Each project (of between 1.5 and 2 million euros) lasts for five years and allows the recruitment of a team of six or seven doctoral students and postdocs.
News
New cross-boundary approach for addressing wicked weed problems

Date: 2019-05-03

 

Weed species continue to spread and management costs continue to mount, in spite of best management practices and efforts by research and extension personnel who promote them to land managers.

The issue is weeds aren’t just a problem for the landowner where they grow. They are collectively everyone’s problem because they don’t recognize property lines, and that is how they must be managed.

This is the result of a study led by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Texas A&M University that looks at weed control through a cross-boundary lens. The study was carried out by a team of 15 researchers representing entities around the world, led by ICTA-UAB researcher Dr. Sonia Graham and Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan from Texas A&M University. Their findings have been recently published in the journal Nature Plants “Considering Weed Management as a Social Dilemma Bridges Individual and Collective Interests”.

The paper is a call to action for scholars and practitioners to broaden their conceptualization and approaches to weed management problems, beginning with evaluating the “public good” characteristics of specific weed management challenges and applying context-specific design principles to realize successful and sustainable weed management.

“The public-goods lens highlights the broader social vision required for successful weed management,” Graham said. “Public goods like weed management are best achieved with the help of many people living and working across landscapes. We need to make the most of the diverse interests, knowledge and skill sets of those involved in managing weeds.”

Agricultural and natural landscapes worldwide are affected by weeds, but management techniques have primarily been developed for individual landowners. These practices rarely look at how control from a collective perspective would improve overall weed management outcomes.

“We suggest that a major limitation of current best management practices is an underappreciation for the complex, multi-scale and collective nature of the weed problem,” he said. “We believe practices will be more effective if they are complemented by landscape-scale design principles that encourage cross-boundary coordination and cooperation.”

Graham added that the team framed the landscape-scale weed management issue as a social dilemma, where trade-offs occur between individual and collective interests. Combining perspectives from biologists and social scientists, the team applied a transdisciplinary systems approach to four pressing landscape-scale weed management challenges: 

- Plant biosecurity – The protection of plant resources from alien pests is a key policy and regulatory tool governments use to limit intentional or accidental spread of weeds, locally and globally. Plant biosecurity includes quarantine, inspection of freight at ports and certified treatment schemes such as bulk fumigation of certain types of cargo. Some governments fail to make these necessary investments to protect global biodiversity.

- Weed seed contamination – Weeds, especially those closely related to crops, are common contaminants of crop seeds and can spread through equipment sharing. For example, weedy rice is a noxious weed that threatens global rice production. Due to its propensity for seed shattering and long seed dormancy, weedy rice is an efficient invader that can cause up to 80 percent yield loss in rice and substantially reduce marketable grain quality.

- Herbicide susceptibility – Herbicide-resistant weeds are proliferating exponentially, threatening farm productivity and profitability. At least 60 countries have reported herbicide-resistant weeds, including about 500 species-herbicide group combinations. Treating herbicide-resistant weeds costs around $4 billion annually in the U.S. alone.

- Weed biological control – Classic weed biological control employs host-specific arthropods or pathogens from a weed’s native environment to reduce weed populations in invaded systems. These strategies can have high benefit-to-cost ratios due to long-lasting, low-input costs, and provide management options where other tools are unavailable or impractical. 

Dr. Bagavathiannan said that across these challenges, the public goods nature of weeds requires active contributions and development of shared goals, and approaches must respect the unique perspectives and diverse capacities of contributors. 

“Achieving such an agreement requires good working relationships, or at least shared values, where contributors are willing to transparently demonstrate their efforts and contribute shared resources to help those who are least able to contribute,” he said.

Describing their findings, Graham outlined four new principles for landscape-scale weed management: clearly articulate shared goals and secure commitments from contributors; establish good working relationships and shared values among contributors; make individual contributions transparent; and generate pooled resources to support weakest-link problems or address asymmetries in the public good. 

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