Plant composition modulates arthropod pest and predatorabundance: Evidence for culling exotics and planting natives

H.R. Parry, S. Macfadyen, J.E. Hopkinson, F.J.J.A. Bianchi, M.P. Zalucki, A. Bourne, N.A. Schellhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigate the role of plant species in crops, pasture and native vegetation remnants in supporting agronomic pests and their predators. The study was conducted in three Australian States and across 290 sites sampled monthly for two years. Pastures played a key role in harbouring pest species consistent across States, while native vegetation hosted relatively more predators than other habitat types within each State. Furthermore, native plant species supported the lowest pest density and more predators than pests; in contrast, 75% of the exotic weed species surveyed hosted more pests than predators. Despite the role of pasture in harbouring pests, we found in NSW that pasture also supported the highest proportion of juvenile predators, while native vegetation remnants had the lowest. Our results indicate that non-crop habitat (native remnants or pasture) with few exotic weeds supports high predator and low pest arthropod densities, and that weeds are associated with high pest densities. By linking broad response variables such as ‘all pests’ with specific predictors such as ‘plant species’, our study will inform on-farm management actions of which weeds to control and which natives to plant or regenerate. This study shows the importance of knowing the function of habitats and plants species in supporting pests and predators in agricultural landscapes across multiple regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-543
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Volume16
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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