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Helena Hanson. Photo.

Helena Hanson


Helena Hanson. Photo.

Natural enemies: Functional aspects of local management in agricultural landscapes


  • Helena Hanson

Summary, in English

Agricultural intensification has raised the global food production but also caused major concerns about environmental

and health effects, including contamination by pesticides. Pesticide applications may induce toxicity not only on the

target pest species but especially on non-target species. Hence we need to replace pesticides with management that

promote organisms that suppress pest population. Natural enemies as parasitoids, spiders and ground and rove beetle

can reduce pest population and contribute to the ecosystem service biological control. In this thesis I therefore study

how agricultural management and land-use intensity as well as landscape composition influence the distribution of

natural enemies and their functional aspects in agricultural landscapes. The studies were done in an agricultural region

of southern Sweden dominated by annual crop production. Two study systems were considered. One consisting of

oilseed rape, pollen beetles and parasitoid wasps that are natural enemies of pollen beetles. The other of three common

agricultural lands uses, ranging from intensively managed sugar beet fields, winter wheat fields to grasslands and

predatory arthropods. The results highlight that management intensity is an important factor explaining the spatiotemporal

distribution of natural enemies and their biological control potential. In a functional perspective, increasing

management intensity with insecticide application reduces the biological control of pollen beetles. Moreover insecticide

treatment also reduce emergence of pollen beetle parasitoids the following spring. The most important factor

explaining the distribution of adult parasitoids was the density of pollen beetle larva. Increased land-use intensity

influenced the composition of arthropod communities. Spiders that are sensitive to disturbance were more commonly

emerging in grasslands while omnivorus rove beetles and predacious macropterous ground beetles were most common

in winter wheat fields. The phenology of arthropod emergence differed between the land uses and the overall dispersal

tendency was higher for those emerging in crop fields compared to those emerging in grasslands. The land-use

intensity also influenced the trait composition. The average body length of emerging ground beetle communities was

lower in crop fields than grasslands while the average body length of actively moving communities did not differ

between land uses. Further the proportion of ground beetles with good flight ability or a carnivorous diet was higher in

crop fields than grasslands. To conclude, this thesis contributes to important knowledge concerning the distribution of

natural enemies in the agricultural landscape in relation to management intensity. This knowledge base will be needed

to develop more sustainable agricultural systems, as approaches focusing on reducing pesticide inputs as organic

farming and integrated pest management (IPM) are dependent on natural enemies and their functions to be successful.


  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • Biodiversity
  • Environmental Science

Publishing year




Document type



Department of Biology, Lund University


  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


  • Agricultural intensification
  • sustainable agriculture
  • land use
  • management intensity
  • landscape scale
  • ecosystem services
  • biological control
  • species trait
  • pesticides
  • predatory arthropods
  • parasitoids
  • pollen beetles




  • Katarina Hedlund
  • Henrik Smith


  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-296-5
  • ISBN: 978-91-7623-295-8

Defence date

22 May 2015

Defence time


Defence place

Blå hallen, ekologihuset, Sölvegatan 37


  • Barbara Ekbom (prof)