Dr Thomas, working with Professor Ulf Büntgen at the University of Cambridge, studied continuous records, spanning 36 years, of Mediterranean truffle yield in France, Spain and Italy.
The team correlated the data with local weather conditions to assess the impact of climate on production – and combined the results with state-of-the-art climate model projections to predict the likely impact of climate change on truffle yields.
“This is a wake-up call to the impacts of climate change in the not-too-distant future,” Dr Thomas said. “These findings indicate that conservational initiatives are required to afford some protection to this important and iconic species. Potential action could include the expansion of truffle plantations into new territories of a more favourable future climate.
“Management strategies should further include mulching materials and cultivation practices to mitigate soil temperature fluctuations and conserve soil moisture.”
The study, A risk assessment of Europe's black truffle sector under predicted climate change, is published in Science of the Total Environment.