Insect Science (2019) 26, 545-554

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Marco Ferrante, Gábor L. Lövei, Serena Magagnoli, Lenka Minarcikova, Elena Larisa Tomescu, Giovanni Burgio, Ludovit Cagan and Mihael Cristin Ichim (2019)
Predation pressure in maize across Europe and in Argentina: an intercontinental comparison
Insect Science 26 (3), 545-554
Abstract: Humankind draws important benefits from large-scale ecological processes termed ecosystem services, yet the status of several of them is declining. Reliable monitoring methods are essential for tracking the status of ecosystem services. Predation is the mainstay of natural pest control, a key ecosystem service. We used green plasticine caterpillars to monitor predation pressure, and to obtain baseline data on predator activity in transgenic Bt versus non-Bt maize fields in Old and New World countries. Predation pressure was measured at ground and canopy levels using an identical, small-plot experimental design in four European countries (Denmark, Slovakia, Romania and Italy) and Argentina. Total predation rate in maize was 11.7%d-1 (min. 7.2%d-1 in Argentina, max. 29.0%d-1 in Romania). Artificial caterpillars were attacked both by invertebrates (mostly chewing insects with 42.0% of the attack marks, and ants with 7.1%, but also predatory and parasitoid wasps, spiders and slugs), and vertebrates (small mammals 25.5%, and birds 20.2%). Total predation at ground level (15.7%d-1) was significantly higher than in maize canopies (6.0%d-1) in all countries, except Argentina. We found no significant differences between predator pressure in Bt versus non-Bt maize plots. The artificial caterpillar method provided comparable, quantitative data on predation intensity, and proved to be suitable for monitoring natural pest control. This method usefully expands the existing toolkit by directly measuring ecological function rather than structure.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Gábor L. Lövei, Giovanni Burgio

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
non-target effects/fate in environm.


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Denmark
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Italy
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Romania
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Slovakia
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen) Argentina