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Using plant volatile traps to estimate the diversity of natural enemy communities in orchard ecosystems

Nicholas J. Mills, Vincent P. Jones, Callie C. Baker, Tawnee D. Melton, Shawn A. Steffan, Thomas R. Unruh, David R. Horton, Peter W. Shearer, Kaushalya G. Amarasekare, Eugene Milickzy
Biological control 2016 v.102 pp. 66-76
apples, bait traps, biological control, chemical constituents of plants, cherries, crops, ecosystems, growing season, natural enemies, orchards, parasitoids, pears, pest management, predators, species diversity, sticky traps, volatile compounds, walnuts, Western United States
In this study we used sticky traps baited with plant volatile lures to monitor the biodiversity of natural enemies in orchard ecosystems in the western U.S. We compared the diversity of predator genera from season total trap catches in 37 different orchards (apple, cherry, pear and walnut) over a two-year period (2010−2011) using standardized Hill number biodiversity indices and community similarity profiles. For a subset of 23 of these orchards we were also able to monitor the change in biodiversity of predator genera over the full growing season in the different orchard crops. A total of 37,854 individuals from 31 different genera of foliage-active generalist predators were collected from all orchards combined. Mean sample coverage was high (0.98) and richness, diversity and evenness differed between crops in 2010, but not in 2011. There was more than 90% similarity in the richness of predator genera among crops and among orchards within crops, but a greater level of differentiation was observed among orchards when variation in their relative abundance and dominance in the communities was taken into account. There was a consistent rise in predator generic richness and diversity through the season in both years for apple, cherry and pear orchards, but in walnut orchards, a steep rise from March to May was followed by a decline through the rest of the season. In an additional component of the study, the species level similarity of predator and parasitoid communities was analyzed for total season trap catch data from six walnut orchards. The rarefied species richness of parasitoids was much greater than that for predators, although the diversity, evenness and dominance of the parasitoid species varied considerably among orchards. The results from this study highlight the fact that natural enemy communities in orchard ecosystems can be effectively monitored using plant volatile traps, and that these communities are surprisingly diverse despite frequent disturbance from pest management intervention.