Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 90, Issue 1, pp 159–176 | Cite as

Birds as predators of cork and holm oak pests

  • Ricardo S. Ceia
  • Jaime A. Ramos


The recent decline of Mediterranean oak woodlands in SW Iberian Peninsula is related to insect pests which affect both cork oak (Quercus suber) and holm oak (Quercus rotundifolia). We identified twenty-six bird species as potential regular predators of twenty major pests by reviewing the diet of breeding, wintering and resident species in this ecosystem. Foraging guilds are strongly associated with predation at distinct stages of the pests’ life-cycle: ground-foragers prey on overwintering pupae and larvae of seed-borers, tree-foragers prey on eggs, larvae and pupae of defoliating and wood-boring pests, and aerial-sweepers prey on airborne imagines. Bird predation can cover the complete life-cycle of pest species because different species may be complementary due to a dissimilar exploitation of foraging niches and periods. Small generalist tree-foraging passerines are important pest predators given their high densities and widespread distribution in Mediterranean oak woodlands, but management practices can have a significant negative effect in their populations.


Biocontrol Foraging guild Insectivory Mediterranean oak woodland Quercus 



This work was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), through the PhD grant SFRH/BD/78813/2011.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, Marine and Environmental Research Centre (IMAR/CMA) and MARE – Marine and Environmental Sciences CentreUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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