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Effects of landscape structure and habitat type on a plant-herbivore-parasitoid community


  • Andreas Kruess

A. Kruess (, FG Agrarökologie, Waldweg 26, D-37073 Göttingen, Germany.


The effects of local habitat and large-scale landscape factors on species diversity and species interactions were studied using the insect community in stems of the creeping thistle Cirsium arvense. Thistle abundance was higher in fallows than in crop fields and field margins, with fallows providing 67% of thistle abundance within 15 study areas on a landscape scale. Species richness of the herbivores was positively related with thistle abundance, parasitoid species richness was influenced by habitat type and was positively correlated with herbivore species richness. The abundance of herbivores and parasitoids was affected by local factors such as habitat type and host abundance, but also by landscape factors such as the percentage of non-crop area and the isolation of habitats. The infestation rate caused by the agromyzid Melanagromyza aeneoventris was positively related to percent non-crop area, whereas the parasitism rate of this fly increased with increasing habitat diversity on the landscape scale. For these two interactions and for total herbivore abundance, a scale-dependency of the landscape effects was found. The results emphasize that biological diversity and ecological functions within a plant-insect community are not only affected by local habitat factors but also by large-scale landscape characteristics. Hence, to improve future agri-environmental schemes for biodiversity conservation and biological control large-scale landscape effects and their scale-dependency should be considered.