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Anolis lizards as biocontrol agents in mainland and island agroecosystems

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ABSTRACT

Our knowledge of ecological interactions that bolster ecosystem function and productivity has broad applications to the management of agricultural systems. Studies suggest that the presence of generalist predators in agricultural landscapes leads to a decrease in the abundance of herbivorous pests, but our understanding of how these interactions vary across taxa and along gradients of management intensity and eco‐geographic space remains incomplete. In this study, we assessed the functional response and biocontrol potential of a highly ubiquitous insectivore (lizards in the genus Anolis) on the world's most important coffee pest, the coffee berry borer (Hypothalemus hampei). We conducted field surveys and laboratory experiments to examine the impact of land‐use intensification on species richness and abundance of anoles and the capacity of anoles to reduce berry borer infestations in mainland and island coffee systems. Our results show that anoles significantly reduce coffee infestation rates in laboratory settings (Mexico, p = .03, F = 5.13 df = 1, 35; Puerto Rico, p = .014, F = 8.82, df = 1, 10) and are capable of consuming coffee berry borers in high abundance. Additionally, diversified agroecosystems bolster anole abundance, while high‐intensity practices, including the reduction of vegetation complexity and the application of agrochemicals were associated with reduced anole abundance. The results of this study provide supporting evidence of the positive impact of generalist predators on the control of crop pests in agricultural landscapes, and the role of diversified agroecosystems in sustaining both functionally diverse communities and crop production in tropical agroecosystems.

No MeSH data available.


Photograph of an adult Mexican anole, Anolis sericeus, perching in a coffee shrub
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ece32806-fig-0001: Photograph of an adult Mexican anole, Anolis sericeus, perching in a coffee shrub

Mentions: Anolis lizards have been used broadly as a model group for the study of trait diversification and biotic interactions along environmental gradients (Losos, 2009). Their application to biocontrol appears most relevant due to an opportunistic feeding strategy, allowing individuals to monopolize on aggregates of prey (e.g., colonies of ants and termites) (Barbor 1930; personal observation). Comparative studies on the effects of anole presence and absence in island ecosystems show a negative correlation between the presence of anoles and plant damage via the reduction of herbivorous insect pests (Pacala & Roughgarden, 1984). Additionally, the ability of anoles to exploit vertical niche space, including coffee bushes (FigureĀ 1), may bolster their capacity to serve as a front line of defense against most insect pests, particularly during outbreaks.


Anolis lizards as biocontrol agents in mainland and island agroecosystems
Photograph of an adult Mexican anole, Anolis sericeus, perching in a coffee shrub
© Copyright Policy - creativeCommonsBy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383488&req=5

ece32806-fig-0001: Photograph of an adult Mexican anole, Anolis sericeus, perching in a coffee shrub
Mentions: Anolis lizards have been used broadly as a model group for the study of trait diversification and biotic interactions along environmental gradients (Losos, 2009). Their application to biocontrol appears most relevant due to an opportunistic feeding strategy, allowing individuals to monopolize on aggregates of prey (e.g., colonies of ants and termites) (Barbor 1930; personal observation). Comparative studies on the effects of anole presence and absence in island ecosystems show a negative correlation between the presence of anoles and plant damage via the reduction of herbivorous insect pests (Pacala & Roughgarden, 1984). Additionally, the ability of anoles to exploit vertical niche space, including coffee bushes (FigureĀ 1), may bolster their capacity to serve as a front line of defense against most insect pests, particularly during outbreaks.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Our knowledge of ecological interactions that bolster ecosystem function and productivity has broad applications to the management of agricultural systems. Studies suggest that the presence of generalist predators in agricultural landscapes leads to a decrease in the abundance of herbivorous pests, but our understanding of how these interactions vary across taxa and along gradients of management intensity and eco‐geographic space remains incomplete. In this study, we assessed the functional response and biocontrol potential of a highly ubiquitous insectivore (lizards in the genus Anolis) on the world's most important coffee pest, the coffee berry borer (Hypothalemus hampei). We conducted field surveys and laboratory experiments to examine the impact of land‐use intensification on species richness and abundance of anoles and the capacity of anoles to reduce berry borer infestations in mainland and island coffee systems. Our results show that anoles significantly reduce coffee infestation rates in laboratory settings (Mexico, p = .03, F = 5.13 df = 1, 35; Puerto Rico, p = .014, F = 8.82, df = 1, 10) and are capable of consuming coffee berry borers in high abundance. Additionally, diversified agroecosystems bolster anole abundance, while high‐intensity practices, including the reduction of vegetation complexity and the application of agrochemicals were associated with reduced anole abundance. The results of this study provide supporting evidence of the positive impact of generalist predators on the control of crop pests in agricultural landscapes, and the role of diversified agroecosystems in sustaining both functionally diverse communities and crop production in tropical agroecosystems.

No MeSH data available.