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Linear woody landscape elements may help to mitigate leaf surface loss caused by the cereal leaf beetle

Landscape Ecology


Context Woody semi-natural habitats serve as permanent habitats and hibernation sites for natural enemies and, through spillover processes, they play an important role in the biological control of insect pests. However, this service is also dependent on the amount and configuration of the dominating woody habitat types: linear landscape elements (hedgerows, shelterbelts), and more evenly extended plantations. Relating natural enemy action to the landscape context can help to identify the effect of woody habitats on biological control effectiveness. Objectives In the Central European agricultural landscapes such as in the Hungarian lowlands, where our study took place, woody linear elements are characterised by high, while woody areal elements, mostly plantations, by low biological and structural diversity. In this study, we aimed to determine which composition and configuration of woody linear and areal habitats in the landscape may enhance the effect of natural enemy action on plant damage caused by the cereal leaf beetle (CLB,Oulema melanopus). Methods Herbivory suppression by natural enemies was assessed from the leaf damage difference between caged and open treatments. These exclusion experiments were carried out in 34 wheat fields on plants with controlled CLB infections. The results were related to landscape structure, quantified by different landscape metrics of both woody linear and areal habitats inside buffers between 150 and 500 m radii, surrounding the wheat fields. Results The exclusion of natural enemies increased the leaf surface loss caused by CLBs in all fields. Shelterbelts and hedgerows in 150-200 m vicinity of the wheat fields had a strong suppressing effect on CLB damage, while the presence of plantations at 250 m and further rather impeded natural enemy action. Conclusions Our results indicate that shelterbelts and hedgerows may provide a strong spillover of natural enemies, thus contribute to an enhanced biological control of CLBs.

Author(s): Lajos, K; Csaszar, O; Sarospataki, M; Samu, F; Toth, F

Journal: Landscape Ecology

Year: 2020