Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 88, Issue 2, pp 205–219 | Cite as

The role of integrating agroforestry and vegetable planting in structuring communities of herbivorous insects and their natural enemies in the Neotropical region

  • Érica Sevilha Harterreiten-Souza
  • Pedro Henrique Brum Togni
  • Carmen Silvia Soares Pires
  • Edison Ryoiti Sujii


The integration of agroforestry plots with ephemeral crops such as vegetables on the farm scale can probably serve as a refuge and source of beneficial insects. Therefore, agroforestry systems possibly represent an alternative that favors ecosystem services and help growers in the transition process from conventional to agro-ecological agriculture. This study aimed to understand the role of introducing agroforestry systems in structuring insect communities, with consequences for the abundance of herbivore and natural enemies, contributing to farm management and favoring biological control as an ecosystem service. Field surveys showed that agroforestry systems can harbor more species than horticultural crops, independent of the functional group. They also contain a greater diversity of herbivores and an even greater diversity profile of natural enemy communities. Agroforestry systems served as a source of natural enemies that can colonize horticultural crops when herbivores are present. As a consequence, natural enemies can establish a numerical response to herbivore abundance, but their communities are also affected by stochastic factors related to climatic conditions. Thus, agroforestry systems and agro-ecological practices might favor an agriculture based on the maintenance and conservation of ecosystem services.


Agroecology Biological control Ecological pest management Ecosystems services Functional groups 



The authors are grateful to Milena Luçardo, Paloma VGN Milane for field assistance and insect trials; To Luciane Marinoni, Amanda C Pires, Mirian N Morales by identification of syrphids and Lúcia Massuti, Geovan H Côrrea, Camila F de Castro by identification of coccinellids; Raúl A Laumann and José R Pujol-Luz, for support in identification of insects. This study was supported by research grants and fellowships to the authors from the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and Coordination of Higher Level Personnel (CAPES). We are also grateful to Emater and Embrapa for the financial and logistic support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Érica Sevilha Harterreiten-Souza
    • 1
    • 2
  • Pedro Henrique Brum Togni
    • 2
    • 3
  • Carmen Silvia Soares Pires
    • 3
  • Edison Ryoiti Sujii
    • 3
  1. 1.PPG EcologiaInstituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade de BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de EntomologiaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrazil
  3. 3.Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa AgropecuáriaEMBRAPA Recursos Genéticos e BiotecnologiaBrasíliaBrazil

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