Urban tree pests can support biological control services in landscape shrubs
Wilson, Caleb; Frank, Steven (2023), Urban tree pests can support biological control services in landscape shrubs, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.sbcc2frbm
Scale insects are common tree pests in urban ecosystems. Although severe scale infestations can worsen tree condition, trees can tolerate moderate scale densities. Scale insects are prey for many arthropod natural enemies that also feed on plant pests throughout urban landscapes. Because scale-infested trees support natural enemy communities, they may support biological control services on nearby plants and function analogously to banker plants in greenhouse production systems. In this study, we tested if sentinel insect prey were more likely to be removed on shrubs below scale-infested trees compared to scale-uninfested trees. We conducted several biological control experiments from 2019–2021 using fruit flies, aphids, and caterpillars in potted and planted holly shrubs below scale-infested and scale-uninfested oak trees. We found that caterpillars in potted shrubs and fruit flies in planted landscape shrubs were more likely to be removed underneath scale-infested trees compared to scale-uninfested trees. Caterpillars were also more likely to be removed from landscape Ilex vomitoria shrubs compared to I. cornuta shrubs. In all other experiments, we found no effect of scale infestation status or shrub species on prey removal. Our results suggest that scale-infested trees can support biological control services in shrubs below them but that this effect can vary depending on prey and shrub species. The natural enemy communities in urban trees and shrubs appear to be linked and tolerating tree pests can favor conservation biological control services in urban landscapes.
Southern IPM Center, Award: S21-008
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 2021-70006-35670
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 2018-70006-28914
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 2016-70006-25827
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: 2018-70006-28884