, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 239-252

Influence of within-field and landscape factors on aphid predator populations in wheat

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The influence of prey density, within-field vegetation, and the composition and patchiness of the surrounding landscape on the abundance of insect predators of cereal aphids was studied in wheat fields in eastern South Dakota, USA. Cereal aphids, aphid predators, and within-field vegetation were sampled in 104 fields over a three year period (1988–1990). The composition and patchiness of the landscape surrounding each field were determined from high altitude aerial photographs. Five landscape variables, aggregated at three spatial scales ranging from 2.6 km2 to 581 km2, were measured from aerial photographs. Regression models incorporating within-field and landscape variables accounted for 27–49% of the variance in aphid predator abundance in wheat fields. Aphid predator species richness and species diversity were also related to within-field and landscape variables. Some predators were strongly influenced by variability in the composition and patchiness of the landscape surrounding a field at a particular spatial scale while others responded to variability at all scales. Overall, predator abundance, species richness, and species diversity increased with increasing vegetational diversity in wheat fields and with increasing amounts of non-cultivated lands and increasing patchiness in the surrounding landscape.