The landscape context of cereal aphid–parasitoid interactions

Carsten Thies, Indra Roschewitz, Teja Tscharntke

Abstract

Analyses at multiple spatial scales may show how important ecosystem services such as biological control are determined by processes acting on the landscape scale. We examined cereal aphid–parasitoid interactions in wheat fields in agricultural landscapes differing in structural complexity (32–100% arable land). Complex landscapes were associated with increased aphid mortality resulting from parasitism, but also with higher aphid colonization, thereby counterbalancing possible biological control by parasitoids and lastly resulting in similar aphid densities across landscapes. Thus, undisturbed perennial habitats appeared to enhance both pests and natural enemies. Analyses at multiple spatial scales (landscape sectors of 0.5–6 km diameter) showed that correlations between parasitism and percentage of arable land were significant at scales of 0.5–2 km, whereas aphid densities responded to percentage of arable land at scales of 1–6 km diameter. Hence, the higher trophic level populations appeared to be determined by smaller landscape sectors owing to dispersal limitation, showing the ‘functional spatial scale’ for species–specific landscape management.