, Volume 28, Issue 9, pp 1697-1715
Date: 20 Aug 2013

Effects of field and landscape variables on crop colonization and biological control of the cabbage root fly Delia radicum

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Agriculture intensification has deeply modified agroecosystems from field to landscape scales. To achieve successful pest control using natural enemies, understanding species interactions over all scales remains a challenge. Using the cabbage root fly as a model, we studied whether field and landscape characteristics influenced colonization and infestation of broccoli fields by the pest and its control by natural enemies. We also determined whether species of different trophic level or host specialization would respond to environmental characteristics at the same spatial extent. During a multiple-species and multiple-spatial extent study in northwestern France, we recorded pest colonization and infestation in 68 fields, collected associated natural enemies and assessed crop damages. In each field, we considered management practices and characterized the surrounding landscape in 50–500 m-wide buffers. Our main findings are that Delia radicum and its main natural enemies respond to both field and landscape characteristics. Semi-natural areas supported both crop colonization by pests and natural enemy action. The pest and its enemies differed in their responses to field or landscape variables. Landscape elements such as field banks favored the movement of the pest while impeding the movement of some natural enemies. Pest pressure did not increase with the neighboring density of Brassica crops. The presence of natural enemies did not reduce crop damage but reduced pest emerging rates. Finally, specialist parasitoids responded to the landscape at larger spatial extents than generalists. These results outline the complexity of improving pest control through landscape management.