B2: Arthropods

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Biodiversity is a central feature of natural ecosystems and ensures a certain resilience and resistance to change. The biodiversity present in natural ecosystems can be key to sustainable agricultural production and food security, while the lack of diversity in agricultural crops means that major disturbances can have disastrous consequences. Increased beneficial insect diversity in or near crops can have positive, negative or indifferent effects on pest control. New technologies and easier access to high-throughput devices allow biodiversity and ecosystem interactions and changes to be monitored and analyzed in completely new dimensions and facets. These insights enable the intersection of an integration of ecological complexity with patterns of anthropogenic land use.

We test the general hypothesis of biotic resistance, which states that biodiversity reduces pest damage and increases productivity, by measuring plant and insect diversity in different crops. While about 18% of global agricultural production is lost to insect damage, less than 0.5% of all known insect species are considered pests.

Ecosystem functions of insects relevant to plant health and yield include organic matter decomposition, nutrient provision, pest control and pollination. With the comparative analysis of arthropod diversity and their ecosystem functions in mixed crops at different times of the year, we contribute to a better understanding of the importance and function of insects and their ecosystem services in agricultural systems.

Work packages and participants

WP 1: Analysis of insect diversity in relation to the stage of development of agricultural crops

WP 2: Analysis of individual pollinators / predators and their plant food webs

WP 3: Recording the migratory movements of beneficial insects between mixing partners using capture-mark-recapture methods

WP 4: Collection of volatile plant compounds of the mixture partners and evaluation of their attractiveness for selected beneficials and pests in choice experiments