Food web structure and biocontrol in a four-trophic level system across a landscape complexity gradient

Vesna Gagic, Teja Tscharntke, Carsten Dorman, Bernd Gruber, Anne Wilstermann, Carsten Thies

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    89 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Decline in landscape complexity owing to agricultural intensification may affect biodiversity, food web complexity and associated ecological processes such as biological control, but such relationships are poorly understood. Here, we analysed food webs of cereal aphids, their primary parasitoids and hyperparasitoids in 18 agricultural landscapes differing in structural complexity (42â¿¿93% arable land). Despite little variation in the richness of each trophic group, we found considerable changes in trophic link properties across the landscape complexity gradient. Unexpectedly, aphidâ¿¿parasitoid food webs exhibited a lower complexity (lower linkage density, interaction diversity and generality) in structurally complex landscapes, which was related to the dominance of one aphid species in complex landscapes. Nevertheless, primary parasitism, as well as hyperparasitism, was higher in complex landscapes, with primary parasitism reaching levels for potentially successful biological control. In conclusion, landscape complexity appeared to foster higher parasitism rates, but simpler food webs, thereby casting doubt on the general importance of food web complexity for ecosystem functioning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2946-2953
    Number of pages8
    JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
    Volume278
    Issue number1720
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Fingerprint

    Biocontrol
    Food Chain
    trophic level
    food webs
    food web
    biological control
    Aphids
    parasitism
    aphid
    Aphidoidea
    Biodiversity
    hyperparasitism
    hyperparasitoids
    superparasitism
    Ecosystems
    Ecosystem
    agricultural intensification
    Casting
    arable land
    arable soils

    Cite this

    Gagic, Vesna ; Tscharntke, Teja ; Dorman, Carsten ; Gruber, Bernd ; Wilstermann, Anne ; Thies, Carsten. / Food web structure and biocontrol in a four-trophic level system across a landscape complexity gradient. In: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences. 2011 ; Vol. 278, No. 1720. pp. 2946-2953.
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    Food web structure and biocontrol in a four-trophic level system across a landscape complexity gradient. / Gagic, Vesna; Tscharntke, Teja; Dorman, Carsten; Gruber, Bernd; Wilstermann, Anne; Thies, Carsten.

    In: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences, Vol. 278, No. 1720, 2011, p. 2946-2953.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    AU - Gagic, Vesna

    AU - Tscharntke, Teja

    AU - Dorman, Carsten

    AU - Gruber, Bernd

    AU - Wilstermann, Anne

    AU - Thies, Carsten

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    AB - Decline in landscape complexity owing to agricultural intensification may affect biodiversity, food web complexity and associated ecological processes such as biological control, but such relationships are poorly understood. Here, we analysed food webs of cereal aphids, their primary parasitoids and hyperparasitoids in 18 agricultural landscapes differing in structural complexity (42â¿¿93% arable land). Despite little variation in the richness of each trophic group, we found considerable changes in trophic link properties across the landscape complexity gradient. Unexpectedly, aphidâ¿¿parasitoid food webs exhibited a lower complexity (lower linkage density, interaction diversity and generality) in structurally complex landscapes, which was related to the dominance of one aphid species in complex landscapes. Nevertheless, primary parasitism, as well as hyperparasitism, was higher in complex landscapes, with primary parasitism reaching levels for potentially successful biological control. In conclusion, landscape complexity appeared to foster higher parasitism rates, but simpler food webs, thereby casting doubt on the general importance of food web complexity for ecosystem functioning.

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