Management intensity at field and landscape levels affects the structure of generalist predator communities.

Rusch A, Birkhofer K, Bommarco R, Smith HG, Ekbom B

Oecologia 175 (3) 971-983 [2014-07-00; online 2014-05-09]

Agricultural intensification is recognised as a major driver of biodiversity loss in human-modified landscapes. Several agro-environmental measures at different spatial scales have been suggested to mitigate the negative impact of intensification on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The effect of these measures on the functional structure of service-providing communities remains, however, largely unexplored. Using two distinct landscape designs, we examined how the management options of organic farming at the field scale and crop diversification at the landscape level affect the taxonomic and functional structure of generalist predator communities and how these effects vary along a landscape complexity gradient. Organic farming as well as landscapes with longer and more diversified crop rotations enhanced the activity-density of spiders and rove beetles, but not the species richness or evenness. Our results indicate that the two management options affected the functional composition of communities, as they primarily enhanced the activity-density of functionally similar species. The two management options increased the functional similarity between spider species in regards to hunting mode and habitat preference. Organic farming enhanced the functional similarity of rove beetles. Management options at field and landscape levels were generally more important predictors of community structure when compared to landscape complexity. Our study highlights the importance of considering the functional composition of generalist predators in order to understand how agro-environmental measures at various scales shape community assemblages and ecosystem functioning in agricultural landscapes.

NGI Uppsala (Uppsala Genome Center)

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PubMed 24810324

DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-2949-z

Crossref 10.1007/s00442-014-2949-z