Agro-ecosystem services and dis-services in almond orchards are differentially influenced by the surrounding landscape

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1. The simultaneous influence of specific habitats on agro-ecosystem services, dis-services, and their interactions are largely unknown. Natural and semi-natural habitats surrounding cropland may support ecosystem services and dis-services and their net balance is important to guide decision-making in agriculture. 2. It was tested how natural and semi-natural habitats surrounding almond orchards in Israel influence: pest control services by parasitoids, pest predation dis-services by the Almond wasp, and seed predation dis-services by granivorous birds. The latter could provide sanitation services when consuming almonds infested by Almond wasps after harvest. 3. Seventeen almond orchards were surveyed, surrounded by varying percentages of natural and semi-natural habitats. We harvested almonds to identify Almond wasp infestation and parasitoid abundance, monitored bird-feeding marks, and observed birds. 4. Almond wasp predation was positively influenced by semi-natural habitat and highest at orchard edges. Parasitoid abundance was not influenced by natural or semi-natural habitats. Granivorous bird abundance was negatively influenced by semi-natural habitats but did not influence bird seed predation of harvestable or overwintered almonds. 5. Natural habitats did not influence the studied ecosystem services or dis-services in almond orchards in Israel. Therefore, protecting natural habitats for conservation is not necessarily disadvantageous for farmers. Semi-natural habitats increased insect pests, but no direct link to services or dis-services by birds was observed. Therefore, a more holistic approach by accounting for several services and dis-services and their connection to different habitat types to manage agriculture more sustainably is advocated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue numberS1
Pages (from-to)12-21
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2015

    Research areas

  • Almond, Almond wasp, Birds, Natural habitat, Parasitoids, Seed predation, Semi-natural habitat
  • Ecosystems Research