Invertebrate community structure predicts natural pest control resilience to insecticide exposure

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Greenop, A., Cook, S. M., Wilby, A., Pywell, R. F. and Woodcock, B. A. 2020. Invertebrate community structure predicts natural pest control resilience to insecticide exposure. Journal of Applied Ecology.

AuthorsGreenop, A., Cook, S. M., Wilby, A., Pywell, R. F. and Woodcock, B. A.

1. Biological pest control has become one of the central principles of ecological intensification in agriculture. However, invertebrate natural enemies within agricultural ecosystems are exposed to a myriad of different pesticides at both lethal and sub-lethal doses, that may limit their capacity to carry out pest control. An important question is how underlying diversity in invertebrate predator species,
linked to their unique susceptibility to insecticides, can act to increase the resilience of natural pest control.

2. We explore this issue by assessing the effects of sub-lethal insecticide exposure on the predation rates of 12 generalist predators feeding on the aphid Sitobion
avenae (Aphididae). Predation rates within a 24-hr period were assessed (predation assessment) for each species after receiving one of the following treatments:
(a) no prior deltamethrin exposure before the predation assessment (control); (b) deltamethrin exposure immediately before the predation assessment (resistance) and
(c) deltamethrin exposure 5 days before the predation assessment (recovery). Extrapolating from these species-specific measures of resistance and recovery, we predicted the resilience of community level predation to insecticide exposure for predator communities associated with 256 arable fields in the UK.

3. There was large variation in sub-lethal effects of the insecticide between even closely related species. This ranged from species showing no change in predation rates following sub-lethal insecticide exposure (high resistance), species showing only immediate depressed feeding rates after 24
hr (high recovery) or those with depressed feeding rates after 5 days (low resistance and recovery).

4. The community level analysis showed that resistance and recovery of natural
pest control was predicted by both community phylogenetic diversity (positively)
and weighted mean body mass (negatively). However, the removal of numerically
dominant species from the analysis modified these effects.

5. Synthesis and applications: Our results highlight the role of community diversity in maintaining the resilience of natural pest control following insecticide use.
Importantly, less diverse assemblages dominated by predator species that show low resilience to insecticide exposure, may show a greater depression in pest control than diverse assemblages under insecticide based farmland management.

KeywordsFunctional diversity; Insecticide; Invertebrate community diversity; Natural pest control; Pesticides; Phylogenetic diversity; Predation; Resilience
Year of Publication2020
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)https://doi. org/10.1111/1365-2664.13752
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Natural Environment Research Council
Funder project or codeASSIST - Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online05 Oct 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted09 Aug 2020

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