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Keywords:

  • Correlated random walk;
  • diffusion model;
  • intercrop;
  • Coccinella septempunctata;
  • habitat patch;
  • Brassica oleracea;
  • agroecosystem;
  • Coleoptera;
  • Coccinellidae

Abstract

The influence that vegetation diversity and the spatial scale of that diversity exert on insect behavior has increasingly been explored in the ecological literature, but relatively few experiments have explicitly incorporated both factors in experimental treatments. We conducted a field study designed to explore the effect of both of these factors on insect movement behavior in a broccoli agroecosystem. We caught and released seven-spotted ladybird beetles (Coccinella septempunctata L.) in plots containing different degrees of vegetation diversity at two different spatial scales in which prey had been removed. Beetle movement was recorded at timed intervals, and move lengths and turning angles were used to generate discrete path maps for each beetle. Observed mean beetle net squared displacements were compared with predicted net squared displacements, and 95% confidence intervals were generated using a bootstrap method described by Turchin (1998) [Quantitative Analysis of Movement: Measuring and Modeling Population Redistribution in Animals and Plants. Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, MA.]. Predicted net squared displacements underestimated beetle movement in smaller plots with both low and higher vegetation diversity for the first five move lengths, whereas no significant difference between observed and predicted net squared displacement for beetles in larger plots of either level of vegetation diversity were detected. These findings highlight the need for a better understanding of how natural enemies are influenced by vegetation diversity and the spatial scale of that vegetation in agroecosystems. The implications of these results for biological control are discussed.