The SPMC has a very strong bias in research on rodents and other small mammals that is recognized locally and internationally. The nature of its peculiar specialization has enabled the SPMC to be recognized as a “centre of excellence” in rodent pest research in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has led to research collaboration with scientists from all over the world, and greatly enhanced funding opportunities. However, there have also been missed opportunities to conduct basic and applied research and equally excel in studies of other pests including invertebrates. This responsibility is now recognized, and as a way forward to broaden research at SPMC to cover a wider spectrum of pests.
Increasing pest problems
The SPMC envisages major changes in the external environment related to land use patterns, interactions between people and pests due to closer proximity and climate changes and its effects on pest populations.
Intensive agriculture and expansion of land for crop production always, as a rule, lead to more increased pest problems. This also leads to more interactions between people and pests. Insect populations are influenced by temperature and other environmental conditions, and hence future changes in climate can be expected to affect insect outbreaks in all kinds of crop and forest scenarios. In some cases, larger and more frequent insect outbreaks may occur, but in other cases recurring outbreaks may be disrupted. Climate changes, in particular elevated temperature, are predicted to shorten life cycle of pests, thus more generations and higher.
Invasive pest species
The SPMC coordinate efforts to combat the introduction of invasive species which have been a common phenomenon in agriculture, forestry, crop storage and livestock industry. Already pioneering studies on fruit flies and the larger grain borer have provided solutions to these pest problems. As trans-boundary trade between Tanzania and neighbouring countries increases, the risk of invasive pest species is much higher. All potential mitigation or management strategies are evaluated to manage invasive species.