Who is the culprit: Is pest infestation responsible for crop yield losses close to semi-natural habitats?

  • Semi-natural habitats (SNHs) are becoming increasingly scarce in modern agricultural landscapes. This may reduce natural ecosystem services such as pest control with its putatively positive effect on crop production. In agreement with other studies, we recently reported wheat yield reductions at field borders which were linked to the type of SNH and the distance to the border. In this experimental landscape-wide study, we asked whether these yield losses have a biotic origin while analyzing fungal seed and fungal leaf pathogens, herbivory of cereal leaf beetles, and weed cover as hypothesized mediators between SNHs and yield. We established experimental winter wheat plots of a single variety within conventionally managed wheat fields at fixed distances either to a hedgerow or to an in-field kettle hole. For each plot, we recorded the fungal infection rate on seeds, fungal infection and herbivory rates on leaves, and weed cover. Using several generalized linear mixed-effects models as well as a structural equation model, we tested theSemi-natural habitats (SNHs) are becoming increasingly scarce in modern agricultural landscapes. This may reduce natural ecosystem services such as pest control with its putatively positive effect on crop production. In agreement with other studies, we recently reported wheat yield reductions at field borders which were linked to the type of SNH and the distance to the border. In this experimental landscape-wide study, we asked whether these yield losses have a biotic origin while analyzing fungal seed and fungal leaf pathogens, herbivory of cereal leaf beetles, and weed cover as hypothesized mediators between SNHs and yield. We established experimental winter wheat plots of a single variety within conventionally managed wheat fields at fixed distances either to a hedgerow or to an in-field kettle hole. For each plot, we recorded the fungal infection rate on seeds, fungal infection and herbivory rates on leaves, and weed cover. Using several generalized linear mixed-effects models as well as a structural equation model, we tested the effects of SNHs at a field scale (SNH type and distance to SNH) and at a landscape scale (percentage and diversity of SNHs within a 1000-m radius). In the dry year of 2016, we detected one putative biotic culprit: Weed cover was negatively associated with yield values at a 1-m and 5-m distance from the field border with a SNH. None of the fungal and insect pests, however, significantly affected yield, neither solely nor depending on type of or distance to a SNH. However, the pest groups themselves responded differently to SNH at the field scale and at the landscape scale. Our findings highlight that crop losses at field borders may be caused by biotic culprits; however, their negative impact seems weak and is putatively reduced by conventional farming practices.show moreshow less

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Author details:Larissa RaatzORCiDGND, Karin Pirhofer-WalzlORCiD, Marina E.H. Müller, Christoph ScherberORCiDGND, Jasmin JoshiORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.8046
ISSN:1467-6435
Title of parent work (English):Ecology and Evolution
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publishing:Oxford
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Date of first publication:2021/08/24
Publication year:2021
Release date:2022/05/11
Tag:arable weeds; cereal leaf beetle; fungal pathogens; herbivory; structural equation model; wheat
Volume:11
Print run:19
Number of pages:15
First page:13232
Last Page:13246
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Extern / Extern
DDC classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Peer review:Referiert
Grantor:Publikationsfonds der Universität Potsdam
Publishing method:Open Access / Gold Open-Access
License (German):License LogoCC BY - Namensnennung, 4.0 International
External remark:Zweitveröffentlichung in der Schriftenreihe Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Reihe ; 1240
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