Role of Vertebrates in Inflicting Diseases in Fruit Orchards and their Management

  • A. K. Chakravarthy
Part of the Disease Management of Fruits and Vegetables book series (DMFV, volume 1)


Documented information on the inter-relationships of the fruit tree, the disease causing agent and the vertebrate is exceedingly fragmentary. Animals cause wounds for the pathogenic organisms to gain entry and cause disease. They also disperse disease causing agents, actively or passively. The phanerogamic plant parasites, viz., species of Loranthus and Dendrophthae on mango trees is of common occurrence in India, dispersed by birds particularly Thickbilled flowerpeckers (Dicaeum agile Tickell).

About fifty species of vertebrates are implicated in causing damage to horticultural crops in India. Only a few, however, incur economic losses or serve as effective agents of pathogenic organisms. The same species of vertebrate, notably Roseringed parakeet, Psittacula krameri Bechstein, Wildboar, Sus scrofa W, squirrels of species of Funambulus, rats of species of Rattus; bandicoots, Bandicoota bengalensis B and Bandicota indica B damage several fruit orchards. Even these animals have ecological roles to play in orchards. For instance, wild upturns sub-surface soil to surface; Funambulus species squirrels forage on weed seeds and crop pests. These animals also regulate micro vegetation. Orchards in or around wild areas are prone to bison (Bibos gaurus H) and elephant (Elephas maximus Linn) raids. Most crop raids, however, are incidental resulting from man-animal conflicts. Therefore, a ‘Balance sheet’ of activities of the vertebrates in different orchards is basically important. Crop protection without vertebrate mortality is desirable in most situations.

Timely harvests and clean cultivation, wrapping or covering of fruits, mulching the base of fruit trees, seasonal pruning, shade regulation, animal-proof trenches, polyculture, baiting and provisioning the orchards with alternative foods for the vertebrates are useful management tools. A harmonious blend of these crop protection tools with solar powered fence, repellent pastes of local materials, scaring and public awareness of the role of vertebrates in orchards will promote conservation of natural resources and sustain good quality fruit yields.

Human population pressure and increasing Human-Animal conflicts is making vertebrate-pathogen-fruit orchard interactions develop into an important science.


Fruit Crop Hill Region Coconut Palm Fruit Orchard Cocoa Plantation 
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