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Pest control of aphids depends on landscape complexity and natural enemy interactions.

Authors
  • Martin, Emily A1
  • Reineking, Björn2
  • Seo, Bumsuk3
  • Steffan-Dewenter, Ingolf1
  • 1 Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg , Am Hubland, Würzburg , Germany. , (Germany)
  • 2 Irstea, UR EMGR, St-Martin-d'Hères, France; Université Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France; Biogeographical Modelling, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 3 Biogeographical Modelling, Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany; Department of Plant Ecology, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany. , (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
PeerJ
Publisher
PeerJ
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
Volume
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1095
PMID: 26734497
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Aphids are a major concern in agricultural crops worldwide, and control by natural enemies is an essential component of the ecological intensification of agriculture. Although the complexity of agricultural landscapes is known to influence natural enemies of pests, few studies have measured the degree of pest control by different enemy guilds across gradients in landscape complexity. Here, we use multiple natural-enemy exclosures replicated in 18 fields across a gradient in landscape complexity to investigate (1) the strength of natural pest control across landscapes, measured as the difference between pest pressure in the presence and in the absence of natural enemies; (2) the differential contributions of natural enemy guilds to pest control, and the nature of their interactions across landscapes. We show that natural pest control of aphids increased up to six-fold from simple to complex landscapes. In the absence of pest control, aphid population growth was higher in complex than simple landscapes, but was reduced by natural enemies to similar growth rates across all landscapes. The effects of enemy guilds were landscape-dependent. Particularly in complex landscapes, total pest control was supplied by the combined contribution of flying insects and ground-dwellers. Birds had little overall impact on aphid control. Despite evidence for intraguild predation of flying insects by ground-dwellers and birds, the overall effect of enemy guilds on aphid control was complementary. Understanding pest control services at large spatial scales is critical to increase the success of ecological intensification schemes. Our results suggest that, where aphids are the main pest of concern, interactions between natural enemies are largely complementary and lead to a strongly positive effect of landscape complexity on pest control. Increasing the availability of seminatural habitats in agricultural landscapes may thus benefit not only natural enemies, but also the effectiveness of aphid natural pest control.

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