Professor Robert Cheke of NRI – a specialist on migrant pests such as quelea birds, locusts and armyworms – has published a commentary on recent research examining thousand-year long data sets. The article 'Thinking Long Term' appeared in the Perspectives section of the journal Science on 26 October 2007 (volume 318, pp. 577–578). It discusses the implications, in relation to climate change, of analyses of the dynamics of larch budmoths in the European Alps based on tree growth rings from as far back as 1173 years ago, and of data on the Chinese migratory locust from as long ago as 707 BC.
Recent analyses of these data sets have illustrated how such long series can reveal insights and improve predictions of pest outbreaks. Prof. Cheke considers the implications of these records for our understanding of the impacts of climate change, and proposes that the foresight and long-term commitment that created the records of the Chinese locusts should be applied to current data collection programmes. A summary of the article can be found here. The full text can be found here.