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Predator body sizes and habitat preferences predict predation rates in an agroecosystem

Rusch, Adrien; Birkhofer, Klaus LU ; Bommarco, Riccardo; Smith, Henrik LU and Ekbom, Barbara (2015) In Basic and Applied Ecology 16(3). p.250-259
Abstract
Top-down control of pest populations by their natural enemies is a crucial ecosystem service supporting agricultural production. The relationship between predator community composition and predation rates of pests remains poorly investigated. A deeper understanding of the processes shaping interaction strength in agroecosystems is needed if we are to accurately predict natural pest control services. Functional traits in a community can provide insights into processes shaping community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Functional diversity indices can be constructed from a single trait, such as body length, or from the integration of multiple traits, such as body length, hunting mode and habitat preference. However, their performance in... (More)
Top-down control of pest populations by their natural enemies is a crucial ecosystem service supporting agricultural production. The relationship between predator community composition and predation rates of pests remains poorly investigated. A deeper understanding of the processes shaping interaction strength in agroecosystems is needed if we are to accurately predict natural pest control services. Functional traits in a community can provide insights into processes shaping community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Functional diversity indices can be constructed from a single trait, such as body length, or from the integration of multiple traits, such as body length, hunting mode and habitat preference. However, their performance in predicting ecosystem functioning and services remains largely unexplored. We used empirical data replicated at landscape scales to examine which component of ground-dwelling predator community structure (activity-density, species richness, evenness, taxonomic distinctness and functional diversity) of spiders, carabids and staphylinids best predicted predation rates of aphids in spring cereals. Functional diversity explained a greater part of variation in predation rates than any other taxonomic or activity-density component. Among the indices for functional diversity, single-trait indices better predicted variation in aphid predation rates compared with multiple-trait indices. In particular, we found that the community-average value of body-size of ground-dwelling predators was negatively related to predation rates of aphids, whereas the proportion of spiders with a preference for arable land was positively related to predation rates. Additional analyses of body-size distributions of ground-dwelling predators suggested that intraguild predation was a key process shaping the relationship between predator community composition and the level of aphid pest control. Considering the functional trait composition of communities provides a more mechanistic understanding of the processes shaping the strength of trophic interactions in terrestrial ecosystems, thus improving predictive power. Body-size distribution and habitat preference appear to be particularly valuable in predicting the level of natural pest control by ground-dwelling predators in an agroecosystem. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Functional diversity, Ecosystem services, Body-size, Ecosystem, functioning, Predator-prey interactions, Intraguild predation, Life-history traits, Biological control
in
Basic and Applied Ecology
volume
16
issue
3
pages
250 - 259
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • wos:000352453000007
  • scopus:84926417582
ISSN
1618-0089
DOI
10.1016/j.baae.2015.02.003
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
c5a8d3aa-25b2-4dd2-a229-000cde6da49d (old id 5402797)
date added to LUP
2015-05-19 13:35:53
date last changed
2017-10-22 03:06:41
@article{c5a8d3aa-25b2-4dd2-a229-000cde6da49d,
  abstract     = {Top-down control of pest populations by their natural enemies is a crucial ecosystem service supporting agricultural production. The relationship between predator community composition and predation rates of pests remains poorly investigated. A deeper understanding of the processes shaping interaction strength in agroecosystems is needed if we are to accurately predict natural pest control services. Functional traits in a community can provide insights into processes shaping community assembly and ecosystem functioning. Functional diversity indices can be constructed from a single trait, such as body length, or from the integration of multiple traits, such as body length, hunting mode and habitat preference. However, their performance in predicting ecosystem functioning and services remains largely unexplored. We used empirical data replicated at landscape scales to examine which component of ground-dwelling predator community structure (activity-density, species richness, evenness, taxonomic distinctness and functional diversity) of spiders, carabids and staphylinids best predicted predation rates of aphids in spring cereals. Functional diversity explained a greater part of variation in predation rates than any other taxonomic or activity-density component. Among the indices for functional diversity, single-trait indices better predicted variation in aphid predation rates compared with multiple-trait indices. In particular, we found that the community-average value of body-size of ground-dwelling predators was negatively related to predation rates of aphids, whereas the proportion of spiders with a preference for arable land was positively related to predation rates. Additional analyses of body-size distributions of ground-dwelling predators suggested that intraguild predation was a key process shaping the relationship between predator community composition and the level of aphid pest control. Considering the functional trait composition of communities provides a more mechanistic understanding of the processes shaping the strength of trophic interactions in terrestrial ecosystems, thus improving predictive power. Body-size distribution and habitat preference appear to be particularly valuable in predicting the level of natural pest control by ground-dwelling predators in an agroecosystem.},
  author       = {Rusch, Adrien and Birkhofer, Klaus and Bommarco, Riccardo and Smith, Henrik and Ekbom, Barbara},
  issn         = {1618-0089},
  keyword      = {Functional diversity,Ecosystem services,Body-size,Ecosystem,functioning,Predator-prey interactions,Intraguild predation,Life-history traits,Biological control},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {250--259},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Basic and Applied Ecology},
  title        = {Predator body sizes and habitat preferences predict predation rates in an agroecosystem},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.baae.2015.02.003},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2015},
}