Main content area

Structure, function and management of semi‐natural habitats for conservation biological control: a review of European studies

Holland, John M, Bianchi, Felix JJA, Entling, Martin H, Moonen, Anna‐Camilla, Smith, Barbara M, Jeanneret, Philippe
Pest management science 2016 v.72 no.9 pp. 1638-1651
European Union, agricultural land, arthropod communities, biological control, development aid, funding, habitat conservation, habitats, landscapes, natural enemies, pest management, pests, trophic levels, woodlands, Europe
Different semi‐natural habitats occur on farmland, and it is the vegetation's traits and structure that subsequently determine their ability to support natural enemies and their associated contribution to conservation biocontrol. New habitats can be created and existing ones improved with agri‐environment scheme funding in all EU member states. Understanding the contribution of each habitat type can aid the development of conservation control strategies. Here we review the extent to which the predominant habitat types in Europe support natural enemies, whether this results in enhanced natural enemy densities in the adjacent crop and whether this leads to reduced pest densities. Considerable variation exists in the available information for the different habitat types and trophic levels. Natural enemies within each habitat were the most studied, with less information on whether they were enhanced in adjacent fields, while their impact on pests was rarely investigated. Most information was available for woody and herbaceous linear habitats, yet not for woodland which can be the most common semi‐natural habitat in many regions. While the management and design of habitats offer potential to stimulate conservation biocontrol, we also identified knowledge gaps. A better understanding of the relationship between resource availability and arthropod communities across habitat types, the spatiotemporal distribution of resources in the landscape and interactions with other factors that play a role in pest regulation could contribute to an informed management of semi‐natural habitats for biocontrol. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry