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Biological control at work: demonstrating the complementary effects of natural enemies on two contrasting pests and the damage they cause

Abstract : Natural pest control is a significant service supporting agricultural production. However, the relative contribution of several functional groups of natural enemies to natural pest control is unknown for many crop-pest systems. Furthermore, the output of this regulation in terms of damage reduction is rarely assessed. In this study, based on three field experiments, we quantified the effect of ground dwelling predators and parasitoids on two functional groups of broccoli pests. Relying on physical exclusion, we showed that ground dwelling predators significantly lowered the abundance of both the cabbage root fly (Delia radicum) and aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae and Myzus persicae). Ground dwelling predators made a significant contribution to natural pest control, as they lowered pest populations by 37% on average. Parasitoids suppressed 22% of pest populations. Our results suggest that intraguild predation was not an issue since ground dwelling predators did not have a negative impact on the level of natural pest control by parasitoids. Finally, early predation by ground dwelling predators on the cabbage root fly, the most harmful pest in this study, reduced damage in a highly infested context, meaning that natural pest control can effectively support crop production. These results strongly suggest that agricultural practices limiting soil disturbances or even favoring ground dwelling predator overwintering or colonization could lead to fewer damage and losses for farmers. Keywords Natural pest control • Biological control • Intraguild predation • Damage • Ground dwelling predators • Parasitism Key message • We compared the efficiency of two groups of natural enemies on natural pest control. • Two contrasted types of pests, the cabbage root fly and aphids, were studied. • Early generalists and late specialists removed 37 and 22% of pest populations, respectively. • For the cabbage root fly, early ground dwelling predators were key to biological control. • Natural control of the cabbage root fly reduced damage to the crop by 26%.
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https://hal-agrocampus-ouest.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03328926
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Submitted on : Monday, August 30, 2021 - 2:40:16 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 1, 2021 - 3:11:36 AM

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Xavier Mesmin, Anne Marie Cortesero, Marion Maret, Marie Vincent, Loïc Daniel, et al.. Biological control at work: demonstrating the complementary effects of natural enemies on two contrasting pests and the damage they cause. Journal of Pest Science, Springer Verlag, 2021, ⟨10.1007/s10340-021-01426-8⟩. ⟨hal-03328926⟩

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