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Local vs. Landscape Effects of Woody Field Borders as Barriers to Crop Pest Movement

Rod Bhar, Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology
Lenore Fahrig, Carleton University

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Abstract

Maintenance of woody borders surrounding crop fields is desirable for biodiversity conservation. However, for crop pest management, the desirability of woody borders depends on the trade-off between their effects at the local field scale and the landscape scale. At the local scale, woody borders can reduce pest populations by increasing predation rates, but they can also increase pest populations by providing complementary habitats and reducing movement rate of pests out of crop fields. At the regional scale, woody borders can reduce pest populations by reducing colonization of newly planted crop fields. Our objective was to develop guidelines for maximizing pest control while maintaining woody borders in the landscape. We wished to determine the conditions under which the regional effect of borders on colonization can outweigh local enhancement effects of borders on pest populations. We built a stochastic, individual-based, spatially implicit simulation model of a specialist insect population in a landscape divided into a number of crop fields. We conducted simulations to determine the conditions under which woody borders enhance vs. reduce the regional pest population size. The following factors were considered: landscape fragmentation, crop rotation period, barrier effect of woody borders, disperser success rate, and effect of woody borders on local survival. The simulation results suggest that woody borders are most likely to enhance regional control of crop pests if (1) the woody borders are very effective in reducing insect movement from one crop field to another, and (2) crop rotation is on a very short cycle. Based on these results, our preliminary recommendations are that woody borders should contain dense, tall vegetation to reduce insect movement, and crops should be rotated on as short a cycle as possible. These conditions should ensure that woody borders can be maintained for their conservation value without enhancing crop pest populations. The results are encouraging because the two most important factors are not sensitive to details of pest habitat use; the recommendations should apply across most pest species.

Key words

biodiversity, crop pest, crop rotation, dispersal, fencerow, field margin, hedgerow, patchy population, pest control, shelterbelt, simulation model, woody border.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087