University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Structural heterogeneity of wildflower strips enhances fructose feeding in parasitoids

Mockford, Alice, Westbury, Duncan ORCID:, Ashbrook, Kate, Urbaneja, Alberto and Tena, Alejandro (2022) Structural heterogeneity of wildflower strips enhances fructose feeding in parasitoids. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 339 (108139). ISSN 0167-8809

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The use of wildflower strips to provide carbohydrate resource for parasitoids and enhance pest regulation is widely recommended in agriculture. However, how the management of wildflower strips affects resource availability and utilisation by parasitoids has never been studied. Using orange orchards as a model system, three experimental alleyway management treatments were investigated: a control treatment where naturally occurring vegetation in the alleyways between rows of trees was managed under standard farm practice; a standard management wildflower treatment in which sown wildflower strips in alleyways were managed by cutting once a year; and an active management wildflower treatment, in which the wildflower strips in alleyways was managed by cutting three times a year. Wildflower strips under standard management prevented the seasonal decline of nectar, supporting fructose feeding in parasitoids across all three seasons. The abundance of floral and hemipteran honeydew carbohydrate resources in the orchard alleyways and citrus canopy was consistently greater with the standard management treatment than the control or the active management treatments. In turn, this treatment was associated with twice the abundance of primary parasitoids than with the control and active management treatments in both summer and autumn. In addition, in autumn, parasitoids were more likely to have recently fed on carbohydrate in the standard management treatment than in the other two alleyway treatments. Finally, greater carbohydrate feeding in parasitoids was associated with increased structural heterogeneity of vegetation within the orchard alleyways. This study demonstrates that the nutritional status of parasitoids in a perennial cropping system can be improved using wildflower strips, which could enhance pest regulation, and emphasises the importance of studying the management of wildflower strips when targeting specific resource requirements.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Orange orchard, Habitat management, Ecological infrastructure, Nutritional state, Sugar feeding, Foraging ecology, SERG
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
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Copyright Info: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Depositing User: Duncan Westbury
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 12:42
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 14:51

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