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Keywords:

  • baits;
  • enemy-free space;
  • enemy-free time;
  • tri-trophic interactions

Abstract

The effect of the complexity of tree canopies on the effectiveness of biological control of tree-dwelling insect herbivores by predators has been neglected. A complex canopy provides a greater variety of resources than a simple canopy, which may result in an increase in the abundance of both herbivores and predators in complex canopies and a higher predation rate. On the other hand, it may be more difficult to locate prey in trees with a complex canopy, which may lower the predation rate. The main aim of this study is to determine the relationship between predation rate and canopy complexity. We have used a system consisting of lime trees, larvae of blowflies as prey and naturally occurring predators (mainly birds and ants). The complexity of the canopy of 12 of the lime trees was reduced by pruning, and the predation rate was determined by recording the fate of prey pinned on each of the trees for 30 min several times during the course of a year. The predation rate was negatively associated with canopy complexity. We compare these results with those reported in the literature and contrary to the widely held view conclude that a negative relationship between predation rate and canopy complexity is a common phenomenon and can be expected to be reported in studies not only on ambush but also on predators that actively search for prey.