Weeds, aphids, and specialist parasitoids and predators benefeit differently from organic and conventional cropping of winter cereals
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The aphid–natural enemy interaction in winter wheat fields constitutes a complex system that has been frequently studied because of its implication for biological control. However, not all of the aphids living in cereal fields are crop pests, as there are also aphids living on weeds that may serve as alternative hosts or prey for aphid parasitoids or predators. In this context, a concomitant survey of the plant and insect communities was conducted to understand how different plant communities affect the abundance and richness of aphids and the interactions with their natural enemies. The plant community was split into functional groups (grasses, legumes and forbs), and the aphid community was divided into feeding groups according to their host preferences (specialists in grasses or forbs). The grass aphids, which dominated the total aphid catches, responded positively to grass cover, which was particularly enhanced in the conventional fields. Conversely, the forb aphids, which mainly conditioned the total species richness of the aphids, were closely correlated with the local abundance of legumes. The system of cereal aphid-parasitoids was enhanced in the conventional fields, where the abundance of grasses was higher, whereas the legumes of the organic fields indirectly played a key role in enhancing the richness of the parasitoids and the abundance of predators. Our findings indicate that a bottom-up effect exists throughout the plant community, aphids, and aphidophagous insects and that plant community characteristics should
CitationCaballero-López, B. [et al.]. Weeds, aphids, and specialist parasitoids and predators benefeit differently from organic and conventional cropping of winter cereals. "Journal of pest science", 28 Desembre 2011.