Identification of reproduction habitats of pests and natural enemies in agricultural landscapes

Supervisors

Felix Bianchi (FSE Wageningen UR)
Walter Rossing (FSE Wageningen UR)

Description

There is increasing interest in ecologically based pest management based on top-down pest control by natural enemies. Effective populations of natural enemies can potentially suppress pest populations in crops, which is particularly of interest for organic growers who are not allowed to use synthetic insecticides. To assess in which landscape settings natural biocontrol has most potential it is essential to understand how the various habitats and cropping systems in the landscape influence the population dynamics of pests and natural enemies. One important aspect of this is the identification of reproduction habitats. The suitability of habitats for pest and natural enemy reproduction will be influenced by the quality and amount of resources (e.g. host plants, prey availability) as well as disturbance levels (insecticide application, harvest). In this research reproduction habitats of key agricultural pests and their natural enemies will be assessed in organically and conventionally managed fields, as well as in non-crop habitats.

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Objectives

To quantify the reproduction of agricultural pests and their natural enemies in organically and conventionally managed fields as well as on a selection of non-crop habitat types.

Procedures

Procedures

  • Recruit farmers and select fields and non-crop habitats
  • Prepare a reference collection of focal pest and natural enemy species
  • Quantification of pest and natural enemy densities in fields and non-crop habitats

Experiences gained

  • Literature review
  • Experiment design, plant and insect identification skills, data analysis and writing skills