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Oliver Balmer, Lukas Pfiffner, Johannes Schied, Martin Willareth, Andrea Leimgruber, Henryk Luka and Michael Traugott Noncrop flowering plants restore top-down herbivore control in agricultural fields Ecology and Evolution 3

Article first published online: 2 JUL 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/ece3.658

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This study provides a comprehensive assessment of how habitat manipulation affects biocontrol services of a natural enemy community including both parasitoids and generalist predators. The trophic interactions between pests, parasitoids and predators were determined to achieve a better systemic understanding of top-down herbivore control, which can be strengthened when natural enemies complement each other or dampened by intraguild interactions. Our approach to selectively enhance the third trophic level to counteract specific herbivores was successful for both predators and parasitoids. Our results show significant positive effects of companion plants on predation of pest eggs and parasitism of pest larvae. Importantly, our data also suggest that carabids, staphylinids and spiders do not substantially interfere with parasitoid biocontrol as parasitoid DNA was rarely detected in predator guts.

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