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Effect of non-crop vegetation types on conservation biological control of pests in olive groves

Author(s): Daniel Paredes | Luis Cayuela | Geoff M. Gurr | Mercedes Campos

Journal: PeerJ
ISSN 2167-8359

Volume: 1;
Start page: e116;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Euphyllura olivina | Habitat management | Natural enemies | Ground cover | Natural vegetation patches | Prays oleae

Conservation biological control (CBC) is an environmentally sound potential alternative to the use of chemical insecticides. It involves modifications of the environment to promote natural enemy activity on pests. Despite many CBC studies increasing abundance of natural enemies, there are far fewer demonstrations of reduced pest density and very little work has been conducted in olive crops. In this study we investigated the effects of four forms of non-crop vegetation on the abundance of two important pests: the olive psyllid (Euphyllura olivina) and the olive moth (Prays oleae). Areas of herbaceous vegetation and areas of woody vegetation near olive crops, and smaller patches of woody vegetation within olive groves, decreased pest abundance in the crop. Inter-row ground covers that are known to increase the abundance of some predators and parasitoids had no effect on the pests, possibly as a result of lack of synchrony between pests and natural enemies, lack of specificity or intra-guild predation. This study identifies examples of the right types of diversity for use in conservation biological control in olive production systems.

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