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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Plantes et Système de cultures Horticoles

Zone de texte éditable et éditée et rééditée

Understanding how the dynamics and genetics of pest and pest enemy populations depend on landscape structures and farming practices.

verger commercial enherbe pour axe 1

Using landscape ecology approaches, we have shown that, in combination with local practices, the landscape surrounding the orchards may impact pests and pest enemies. This effect may be due to landscape scale phytosanitary practices: we found a negative effect of conventional plant protection practices within 250m of study plots on levels of predation and parasitism of the codling moth, a positive effect of organic farming practices within 50 m on the abundance of the predatory spider Cheiracanthium mildei. The effect of the landscape may also be due to the presence of semi-natural elements: we found that the presence of hedges bordering orchards impacted the composition of the codling moth parasitoid community, the abundance of C. mildei and the abundance of the codling moth. These results are consistent with the results of a review of the literature highlighting the role of semi-natural habitats for pest enemies.

Nevertheless, this type of studies that relate a biological variable (abundance, predation rates…) with variables describing agricultural practices or landscape characteristics pose methodological problems (numerous explanatory variables often correlated) and are not easy to interpret from an ecological point of view. By a modeling approach we have shown, for example, that relations between biological responses and landscape variables are impacted both by the structure of the landscape and by the characteristics of the dynamics of the studied species.

At the same time, part of our projects thus aimed to better understand the dynamics of pests and pest enemies. Kinship analyses in codling moth larvae showed a low dispersal of females between two egg laying events, mostly within a single orchard and rarely between orchards. Movements between orchards were independent of distance and host plants. Most dispersal occurred in the last yearly generation. In order to take better account of the heterogeneity of landscapes in this type of analysis, methodological developments are being made in collaboration with statisticians. These studies are continuing at the landscape level in the lower Durance valley. We also studied the movements of predatory arthropods between the orchard and hedgerows by mass marking of arthropods in hedgerows. The results obtained show daily movements between the two habitats but also high disparities between the taxa.

Lastly, we sought to better characterize the life-history traits of great tits nesting in orchards. Great tits are potentially predators of larvae of lepidopteran pests but are also affected by the use of pesticides. We found an impact of pesticide applications in apple orchards on the sex ratio of young fledglings, with a bias against males in conventional orchards (23% of males produced only) compared to orchards in IPM and in organic agriculture (about 60% of males produced). In addition, from a methodological point of view, we contributed to a study assessing the importance of the nest boxes characteristics on the reproduction success of tits.