Conservation agriculture affects multitrophic interactions driving the efficacy of weed biological control.

Published online
12 Jan 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Carbonne, B. & Muneret, L. & Laurent, E. & Felten, E. & Ducourtieux, C. & Henon, N. & Matejicek, A. & Chauvel, B. & Petit, S.
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Biological control is a key ecosystem service in arable lands, but its effectiveness varies according to environmental and biotic contexts. Cascading interactions between several trophic levels can affect natural enemies and their efficacy. Here, we analysed how multitrophic interactions drive weed seed control under contrasting farming systems and landscapes. In particular, we analyse how the presence of higher-order predators and alternative prey affects the weed seed consumption by seed predators. We monitored 30 cereal fields organised into 15 pairs, each comprising one conventional and one conservation agriculture field, sampled along a gradient of proportion of conservation agriculture in the landscape. We found that local and landscape management under conservation agriculture favours the presence of seed predators like carabids and rodents, higher-order predators like shrews and alternative animal prey. Weed seed predation is promoted by conservation agriculture through an increase in the number of seed predators. However, alternative animal prey reduces the efficacy of carabids to consume seeds, probably due to a prey-switching behaviour. Similarly, shrews negatively affect the activity-density of carabids, resulting in an indirect negative effect on seed predation.

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