Effects of spontaneous field margin vegetation on the regulation of herbivores in two winter crops

Abstract : Non-crop vegetation of field margins provides resources for natural enemies of crop herbivores. However, it is still not well known whether this resource provisioning effect is strong enough to improve herbivore regulation within crop fields and which plant species and functional groups favour this ecosystem service. A better understanding of the interactions between field margin vegetation and herbivore regulation is crucial to evaluate management strategies and to design suppressive plant mixtures. We surveyed 64 wheat and oilseed rape fields of Western France for two years (16 fields per year and crop) in order (1) to identify plant diversity or group effects on herbivore regulation within crop fields and (2) to identify species within plant groups that improve regulation. Herbivores, herbivore damage and natural enemies were monitored on crop plants at a distance of 5 and 50 m from the field margin. At the same time, the cover and phenological stage of all vascular plants were estimated in the adjacent field margin. The study demonstrated a positive relationship between the cover of entomophilous plant species that were flowering at the survey date and response variables related to herbivore regulation. Plant species richness and the cover of plant species taxonomically close to crop plants had a small influence on herbivores and natural enemies in wheat whereas related wild Brassicaceae increased herbivory and decreased herbivore regulation in oilseed rape. Within the entomophilous flowering plants, several species were significantly related to a better herbivore regulation in univariate analyses. Multivariate ordination techniques allowed the identification of plant species influencing several response variables of herbivore regulation at the same time. Our study demonstrated the importance of entomophilous species that flowered at peak infestation of crop herbivores. Spontaneous field margins rich in flowering entomophilous species provide an important ecosystem service without expensive sowing of seed mixtures.
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Anna Pollier, Lucille Guillomo, Yann Tricault, Manuel Plantegenest, Armin Bischoff. Effects of spontaneous field margin vegetation on the regulation of herbivores in two winter crops. Basic and Applied Ecology, Elsevier, 2018, 27, pp.71 - 82. ⟨10.1016/j.baae.2018.02.004⟩. ⟨hal-01778303⟩

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