Combined effects of landscape composition and pesticide use on herbivore and pollinator functions in smallholder farms.


Landscape composition has the potential to foster regulating ecosystem services such as pollination and biocontrol in temperate regions. However, most landscape studies do not take pesticide use into account even though it is the main control strategy worldwide and has negative impacts on beneficial insects. Moreover, few studies have explored these combined effects in smallholder cropping system with diverse landscapes and small cultivated parcels. We assessed the effect of semi-natural cover and pesticide use on pollinator and herbivore abundances and functions in 9 fields in the Ecuadorian Andes through participatory experiments with smallholder farmers. We performed a path analysis to quantify the effects of landscape and pesticide use on herbivory, pollination and ultimately yield. Pesticide use significantly reduced pollinator abundance but had no significant effect on pest abundance. Similarly, we found non-significant effects of landscape composition on either herbivory and pollination. The study also provides new information on understudied Andean lupine's pests and pollinators, whose application for small farmers is discussed. Finally, we hypothesize that peculiarities of tropical smallholder cropping systems and landscapes could explain the non-significant landscape effects on insect-based processes, which calls for more research in places outside the well-studied temperate region.

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