Effects of shrub crop interplanting on apple pest ecology in a temperate agroforestry system

  • Adam J. KranzEmail author
  • Kevin J. Wolz
  • James R. Miller


Pest control by wild arthropods is an important ecosystem service in fruit crops, especially due to markets that value minimal pesticide use. Techniques to augment on-farm habitat for wild arthropods have focused on flowering ground cover planted within orchards and hedgerows on field borders. However, natural enemies found in groundcover often do not favor tree canopy habitat. Conversely, while hedgerows can effectively provide natural enemies that prefer woody microhabitats, their impact diminishes away from field edges. Shrub crops interplanted within orchards could resolve both problems, providing woody habitat for natural enemies directly adjacent to target crop trees. In a multi-layer agroforestry system in Illinois, we vacuum sampled arthropod communities across layers and recorded vegetation characteristics and pest damage on apples. Using generalized linear models, information theoretic model selection, and non-metric multidimensional scaling, we evaluated the effects of three shrub treatments (raspberries, hazelnuts, and both species) on pest and natural enemy guilds in apple trees and shrubs, and on the frequency of pest damage on apples. Shrub composition was an important predictor of arthropod communities on shrubs. However, shrub treatment had only minor impacts on arthropods in apple canopies, indicating the habitats are less similar than anticipated. While two arthropod guilds in apple canopies were linked to pest damage frequency, neither was sensitive to changes in the shrub layer. Results suggest that shrub crop interplanting does not inherently resolve the ecological complexities that impede existing approaches in conservation biological control.


Alley cropping Conservation biological control Intercropping Natural enemies Polyculture Structural diversity 



This work was supported by the Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture Program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, under Award Number ILLU-875-918. Funding sources had no involvement in the conception, design, or implementation of the study. We’d also like to thank Alex Hiatt, Di Ye, Nisarg Shah, Iris Daiber, Kat Rola, and Victoria Wallace, the field and lab technicians who helped conduct this research, as well as Ron Revord, Dane Nelson, and Alex Hiatt, who established and managed our research site, and Jane Capozelli, Jaime Coon, Samniqueka Halsey, Scott Nelson, Timothy Swartz, Lawrence Hanks, Brenda Molano-Flores, and Michelle Wander for comments on the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural Resources and Environmental SciencesUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.Savanna InstituteMadisonUSA

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