Continent-wide evidence that landscape context can mediate the effects of local habitats on in-field abundance of pests and natural enemies

Salma Akter, Syed Z.M. Rizvi, Ahsanul Haque, Olivia L. Reynolds, Michael J. Furlong, Maria C. Melo, Terry Osborne, Jianhua Mo, Simon McDonald, Anne C. Johnson, Geoff M. Gurr

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Landscape-scale factors known to influence in-field abundance of pest herbivores and their natural enemies, but little is known about effects that operate through the shorter-range influences exerted by habitats immediately adjacent to crop fields. This study first compared the abundance of brassica insect pests and their natural enemy arthropods in 24 spatially independent brassica vegetable fields across southern Australia. An ‘edge effect’ index was used to compare the abundance of each taxon in the field center with abundance in areas of the crop adjacent to differing habitats. Then, three landscape properties: landscape composition, edge density, and connectivity of diverse crop and non-crop habitats were analyzed at five scales up to 5 km from these focal field centers to assess longer-range influences on arthropod abundances in field centers and on the edge effects. Edge effect of adjacent woody vegetation promoted ladybirds and reduced diamondback moth and whiteflies. Conversely, the presence of crops and pastures immediately adjacent to focal crop fields reduced whiteflies and aphids but with no effect on natural enemies. Effect of landscape composition and connectivity on arthropod abundance at field center found promotion of aphids (cabbage aphid and green peach aphid) by woodland in the landscape. Effect of landscape properties on the edge effects of adjacent habitats was contrasting; strengthened (landscape composition and edge density on edge effect of crops, pasture and woody vegetation in reducing diamondback moth and whiteflies) as well as weakened (edge density and landscape connectivity on edge effect of crops, pasture and woody vegetation in reducing diamondback moth on diamondback moth, whiteflies and aphids, and promoting ladybirds). Synthesis and applications: Findings of this geographically extensive study help define the level of pest risk associated with sites as well as suggest potential interventions such as establishment or restorations of woody vegetation adjacent to crop fields that could reduce risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9737
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2023

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