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Local and landscape determinants of pollen beetle abundance in overwintering habitats

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The development of integrated pest management strategies requires that the semi‐natural habitats scattered across the landscape are taken into account. Particular determinants of insect pest abundance in overwintering habitats just before they migrate onto crops appear to be poorly known and of crucial importance for understanding patterns of crop colonization and pest population dynamics at the landscape scale.

The emergence of pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus F. was studied in grassland, woodland edge and woodland interior over a 3‐year survey in France using macro‐emergence traps. A suite of variables at the local and the landscape scale was assessed for each trap, aiming to identify potential relevant habitat indicators. The effects of habitat characteristics were evaluated using partial least square regressions.

It was found that M. aeneus can overwinter in all types of habitat but that particular habitat characteristics at the local and landscape scales may explain their abundance in overwintering sites more than the types of habitat: relative altitude, litter thickness, soil moisture and proximity to the previous year's oilseed rape fields appear to be positively correlated with abundance of adults over the 3 years.

Hence, the abundance of emerged pollen beetles depends on both the landscape configuration of the previous year's oilseed rape fields around overwintering sites and local habitat characteristics. Landscape configuration may determine population flow towards overwintering sites in the late summer, and local habitat characteristics may influence survival rates during the winter. The findings of the present study provide valuable insight into the role of semi‐natural habitats as a source of pests, patterns of crop colonization in the spring, and the influence of landscape on pollen beetle abundance.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-02-01

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