SMARTER is currently initiating a number of activities that relates to studying the impact of biological control of ragweed. This includes field experiments, mapping of unaffected and affect ragweed populations, numerical modelling etc. All these initiatives require substantial ragweed populations to be established in the target region. North Europe is a geographical region without substantial ragweed populations. This geographical region includes a number of SMARTER countries with substantial expertise on a number of core questions in SMARTER. The Northern countries will collaborate on questions, manuscripts and projects that relates to this as given in the example below.
The North Sea as a study region for ragweed expansion
The majority of the populated areas in the North Sea region have very good ragweed habitats where ragweed can flower and reproduce. Recent research has shown that the current risk of exposure to ragweed pollen is limited in this region. This research also showed that if ragweed is allowed to establish in the urban zones, then more than 100 mio people in the North Sea Region countries (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, England, Denmark) will have increased risk of exposure – despite generally low pollen concentrations in the entire region. In fact about 180 mio people in Central and Northern Europe will have increased risk of exposure if ragweed expands northwards from its existing growth locations to all ragweed habitats with a suitable climate. A primary objective in SMARTER is to lower the exposure to ragweed pollen. This objective requires activities both on reducing the infestation in already invaded areas as well as minimizing the risk that new areas are invaded. A research strategy on the latter is currently not formulated for the major risk area: The North Sea Region.
The North Sea region therefore has some unique challenges in respect to relevant research collaboration for that region. However, the region also contain some unique possibilities for addressing a number of research questions due to both the lack a research agenda and the fact that the region has not yet been invaded by ragweed.