Community variability in aphid parasitoids versus predators in response to agricultural intensification
- Agricultural intensification (AI) is a great threat to biodiversity and its negative effects on species richness of different communities have been repeatedly shown. The effects of AI on community composition and variability, however, are important for assessing the predictability of community responses, but have rarely been studied simultaneously and across different taxonomic groups.
- In this study, we focused on parasitoids (primary and secondary) and predators (hoverflies and carabid beetles) of aphids in winter wheat fields with contrasting AI regimes (low AI, i.e. organic fields in structurally complex landscapes vs. high AI, i.e. conventional fields in structurally simple landscapes).
- We found divergence in species composition of more specialised, low-dispersing primary and secondary parasitoids within high AI fields, probably due to the disruption of the exchanges of species between local populations in structurally simple landscapes. In contrast, species composition of less specialised, highly dispersing carabid beetles and hoverflies converged in fields with high AI, where they were characterised by the dominance of a single, vagile species adapted to high land-use conditions. Furthermore, temporal community shifts were only pronounced in primary parasitoids and hoverflies, with higher temporal changes in fields with high AI in primary parasitoids.
- Collectively, our results illustrate that environmental homogenisation due to AI does not necessarily induce spatio-temporal homogenisation of communities, but rather can have contrasting effects on more specialised, low-dispersive parasitoids versus more generalised, high-dispersive predators, thereby demonstrating great differences in the predictability of responses to AI among aphid natural enemies.