The importance of natural enemy diversity and food-web structure for biological control

 Mattias Jonsson (PI)*, Cory Straub‡, Barbara Ekbom* & Michael Traugott

 

Organic agriculture protects biodiversity, but it is unclear how biodiversity contributes to ecosystem services of value for the farmer. In this collaborative project between the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Usinius College and the University of Innsbruck, this problem will be addressed by investigating how organic agriculture influences natural enemy diversity, food-web structure and biological control. In the field we will molecularly compare aphid-predator food web interactions as well as biocontrol services in organic and conventional cereal crops at different times of the season. Manipulative field cage experiments will be used to test specific hypotheses informed by the field survey. These experiments will explore how predator diversity, availability of alternative prey and weeds influence biological control. Using the knowledge gained in this project, we will be able to develop guidelines on how to improve biological control of insect pests in organic systems.

 

Biodiversity

Funding: The Swedish Research Council Formas

* Swedisch University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

‡ Ursinus College, Pennsylvania, USA

 

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