Diverse agricultural landscapes increase bat activity and diversity: Implications for biological pest control



Tortosa A, Giffard B, Barbaro L, Froidevaux JSP, Ladet S, Delhommel J & Vialatte A (2023) Diverse agricultural landscapes increase bat activity and diversity: Implications for biological pest control. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 345, Art. No.: 108318.

Diverse landscapes consisting of mixed crops are expected to support higher biological control, while also contributing to maintain farmland biodiversity. Although bats are known as predators of many farming pests, few studies to date have investigated how their foraging activity may enhance natural pest control. Here, we tested the hypothesis that crop mosaics would provide a temporal continuity in prey availability for bats, ultimately resulting in higher biological control. We sampled bat activity and diversity, and the abundance and damage of three major pests of vineyards, maize, and pine plantations, in both simple and diverse landscapes mixing the three production types. Bat species richness and total activity were higher in vineyards and pine plantations located within diverse landscapes. Bat foraging activity also peaked within diverse landscapes. In vineyards, moth abundance decreased with bat species richness. In pine plantations, pest damage decreased with bat foraging activity. In maize fields, pest abundance and damage increased with bat richness and activity longer-term investigations would be necessary to assess their actual effectiveness. Our study advocates for promoting a diversity of coexisting crops within agricultural landscapes to enhance bat activity and diversity, which in turn would sustain higher biological control and bolster biodiversity conservation in farmland.

Farmland; Crop mosaic; Chiroptera; Conservation; Pest insects; Lepidoptera; Lobesia botrana; Sesamia nonagrioides; Thaumetopoea pityocampa

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment: Volume 345

Publication date30/04/2023
Publication date online19/12/2022
Date accepted by journal09/12/2022
PublisherElsevier BV

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Dr Jeremy Froidevaux

Dr Jeremy Froidevaux

Researcher, Biological and Environmental Sciences