Landscape Ecology

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 931–944 | Cite as

Effects of landscape structure on avian-mediated insect pest control services: a review

  • Andrea L. BoesingEmail author
  • Elizabeth Nichols
  • Jean P. Metzger
Review Article



Despite increasing evidence that landscape composition and configuration strongly influence the community structure of potential pest-regulators, landscape structure has seldom been explicitly linked with the rate and magnitude of pest-control services.

Objectives and methods

We conducted a systematic literature review evaluating 158 relevant studies to: (1) characterize our existing understanding of the empirical relationships between landscape structure and avian-mediated insect pest control services in agricultural systems, (2) identify gaps in our current understanding, and (3) develop a conceptual model of landscape structural influences on avian-mediated pest control.

Results and discussion

We found on-farm pest suppression by birds was often higher in landscapes with higher native habitat cover, higher compositional heterogeneity, and in agricultural patches in closer proximity to native habitats. We identified more than 200 bird species that provide pest control services across both temperate and tropical regions. While most avian predators are habitat-generalist species, a substantial fraction of pest control services in tropical regions was mediated by habitat-dependent species, suggesting a link between conservation management and maintenance of pest control services. We identified a three-part research agenda for future investigations of the relationships between landscape structure and avian-mediated pest control, focusing on an improved understanding of mechanisms related to: (1) predator–prey interactions and landscape modulation of trophic relationships, (2) bird dispersal ability and landscape connectivity, and (3) cross-habitat spillover of habitat-dependent avian predators.


These findings can be applied to efforts to manage and design landscapes capable of supporting both biodiversity and ecosystem services.


Avian predators Conservation Crop fields Ecosystem services Insect pests Pest suppression 



This study was developed within the “Interface Project”, supported by São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, 2013/23457-6). A.L.B was supported by doctoral fellowships from the Brazilian Ministry of Education (CAPES-DS, 2012–2013), and São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, 2013/12777-0). E.N. was supported by post-doctoral fellowships from the National Science Foundation Grant (1158817) and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, 2014/11676-8). J.P.M. was funded by National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPQ, 307934/2011-0). We are grateful to J.A. Prevedello, G. Bravo, R. F. dos Santos, Christopher Whelan, Clive McAlpine, and two anonymous referees for substantial improvement in the earlier version of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 29 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea L. Boesing
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elizabeth Nichols
    • 2
  • Jean P. Metzger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EcologyUniversity of São Paulo, Rua do MatãoSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Department of BiologySwarthmore CollegeSwarthmoreUSA

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