THE ROLE OF VOLES IN AGROECOSYSTEMS – FROM PEST MANAGEMENT TO BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
Joana Paupério (CIBIO-InBIO)| May 24, 2019 – 16h00 | CIBIO-InBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão
Agroecosystem services are being threatened worldwide by biodiversity loss. Biological pest management is one of the main ecosystem services often supported by agroecosystems, as non-crop habitats can provide resources for species that may act as natural controllers of agricultural pests, responsible for huge losses in crop yields. However, there is still limited understanding on how biodiversity levels relate with biological control, particularly considering current trends in agricultural land use change. By combining ecological tools and high throughput DNA sequencing techniques we aim to assess the responses of vole communities to agroecosystem structure and agricultural practices, and evaluate how such responses may affect the potential for pest outbreaks. We expect to understand the relative importance of “bottom-up” regulation and biotic interactions for pest management and how this changes according to agroecosystem structure and management. We are focusing on the vole community of northeastern Portugal, a species rich system where vole pests have significant economic impact on fruit tree orchards. For that, we are collecting data on voles’ distribution in the region, based on owl pellets, and will complement this information, with detailed plant and vole surveys, including trophic niche analyses, across agroecosystems with different structures and management treatments. We expect the results obtained to contribute significantly to foster sustainable agricultural techniques linking pest management to biodiversity conservation.