Multiple benfits from tree plantings for carbon farming

Tree planting for carbon can potentially also provide a range of other benefits beyond just carbon. For the farmer this includes pest control and pollination services to crops, protection of livestock, and a reduction in soil erosion and salinity. For the wider community this could include increased water quality and more habitat for species such as birds. Dr. Brenda Lin and collaborators (including myself) have just published an article in BioScience exploring the range of benefits and potential dis-benefits that may occur as a results of tree planting activities. We found that there are a range of options for tree planting in agricultural landscapes for carbon, but they don’t all have the equivalent ecological benefits. If we want these additional benefits we do need to carefully think about the implementation of these schemes at a range of spatial scales.

BioScience Press Release with link to a version of article published ahead of print.

Further information about this article in the media can be found here and here.

The humble tree can provide a lot beyond just carbon storage (photo credit: M. Neave, CSIRO)

The humble tree can provide a lot beyond just carbon storage (photo credit: M. Neave, CSIRO)

 

Edges in Agricultural Landscapes: Species Interactions and Movement of Natural Enemies

New paper published in PLOS ONE

This is a paper in which Warren Muller and I illustrate how insects moving through agricultural landscapes perceive different edges or eco-tones. We combine this movement data with information on species interactions (herbivores-parasitoids) to discuss the implications for pest control services.

Let me know what you think of the paper and if you are currently doing any work around insect movement in agricultural landscapes.

Macfadyen S, Muller W (2013) Edges in Agricultural Landscapes: Species Interactions and Movement of Natural Enemies. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59659. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059659

IMG_0109

New paper out: Parasitoid diversity reduces the variability in pest control services

My latest paper from the organic farms study in the UK has just come out. You can download from here or contact me for a copy.

Macfadyen, S., Craze, P., Polaszek, A., van Achterberg, K. & Memmott, J. (2011) Parasitoid diversity reduces the variability in pest control services across time on farms. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278: 3387-3394.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2673

Abstract

Recent declines in biodiversity have increased interest in the link between biodiversity and the provision and sustainability of ecosystem services across space and time. We mapped the complex network of interactions between herbivores and parasitoids to examine the relationship between parasitoid species richness, functional group diversity and the provision of natural pest control services. Quantitative food webs were constructed for 10 organic and 10 conventional farms. Parasitoid species richness varied from 26 to 58 species and we found a significant positive relationship between parasitoid species richness and temporal stability in parasitism rates. Higher species richness was associated with lower variation in parasitism rate. A functional group analysis showed significantly greater parasitoid species complementarity on organic farms, with on average more species in each functional group. We simulated parasitoid removal to predict whether organic farms experienced greater robustness of parasitism in the face of local extinctions. This analysis showed no consistent differences between the organic and conventional farm pairs in terms of loss of pest control service. Finally, it was found that the different habitats that make up each farm do not contribute equally to parasitoid species diversity, and that hedgerows produced more parasitoid species, significantly more so on organic farms.

Ecosystem service providers in agricultural landscapes

We have a visitor from France here as part of a work placement traineeship. Blandine Prache is doing some research focused on  understanding the ecology and identity of insect species involved in the provision of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. Her work is in two areas:

1. Understanding the community of bees that occurs  in an agricultural landscape with bee-pollinated crops.  Canola is grown in fields not far from Canberra and we want to know how many different bee species occur in these fields, when these bees are active, and whether the bee community is influenced by other parts of the landscape such as woodland patches and pastures. Blandine has been putting traps to catch native bees each week during spring and the start of summer. This work is being completed with the help of Saul Cunningham.

Blandine and Mick return after placing a bee trap in a canola field

Blandine and Mick return after placing a bee trap in a canola field

A bee trap on the edge of a canola field

A bee trap on the edge of a canola field

2. Examining the parasitic natural enemies of a  leaf-mining moth (Dialectica scalariella) that was released as a biocontrol agent for patterson’s curse (Echium plantagineum). Blandine has been collecting the miners and rearing them in the laboratory to see if they have been attacked by parasitic wasps.

patterson's curse: a common argicultural weed in our area

Patterson's curse: a common agricultural weed in our area

Presentation of research at INTECOL next week

The 10th International Congress of Ecology is on in Brisbane next week (16-21st August)

I am due to give a presentation in the Ecosystem Services symposium (Tuesday 18th 3:15pm Mezzanine 2). The presentation abstract is here:

The provision of the ecosystem service of pest control on farms now and in the future

Sarina Macfadyen1, Rachel Gibson2, Paul Craze3, William O.C. Symondson4, Jane Memmott2

1CSIRO Entomology
2School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol
3Biology and Environmental Science, University of Sussex
4Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

A precautionary approach to biodiversity management is often justified on the basis that the maintenance of a diversity of species is useful for the provision of a particular ecosystem service now and as a form biological ‘insurance’ against disturbances in the future. Natural pest control is one ecosystem service that is thought to be threatened by agricultural intensification. Here we examine the complex network of interactions between insect herbivores and their parasitoids to understand the relationship between parasitoid species richness, functional group diversity and the provision of natural pest control services across time. We utilise 20 farms that display a gradient of parasitoid species richness as a result of farming system. We hypotheses firstly, that there will be a strong correlation between parasitoid species richness and variability in parasitism rate at the whole-farm level. Secondly, those farms with greater parasitoid species richness within functional groups will experience better pest control services in the future. Finally, we use species interactions to identify the key parasitoid species important for providing pest control services in this context.