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Exploring multitrophic interactions in oilseed rape fields reveals the prevailing role of Carabidae

Cite this dataset

Serée, Lola et al. (2022). Exploring multitrophic interactions in oilseed rape fields reveals the prevailing role of Carabidae [Dataset]. Dryad.


In cropped fields, birds are often at the highest position in the food chain, feeding on pest arthropods and their intermediate predators in a process known as intraguild predation. The net effects of bird predation on phytophagous insect populations (feeding on plants) are difficult to predict without comprehensively describing prey-predator communities and their complex interplay. We sampled bird and arthropod communities in 30 oilseed rape fields in the spring of 2019 and 2020 in France. To assess the top-down control of arthropods by birds, we used a vertebrate exclusion experiment. Using a taxonomic and functional trait-based approach, we determined the direct and indirect influences of birds on arthropod predators and phytophagous insect populations in arable crops. We observed a negative relationship between the abundance of Carabidae and phytophagous insects but not with the other predator group suggesting the key role of Carabidae on phytophagous insects in agroecosystem. We found no statistical evidence of intraguild predation from birds towards intermediate predators. Despite the lack of overall effect of predator functional diversity on their prey, we highlighted the negative relationship between the functional complementarity (through functional evenness) of Carabidae and the abundance of phytophagous insects. This result suggests that functional complementarity between Carabidae species could help to reduce phytophagous insect populations. We analysed the effect of agricultural practices on these multitrophic interactions, showing that pesticide intensity only had detrimental effects on Carabidae abundance, while the frequency of tillage did not affect the studied communities. Complementary indices used to depict communities are helpful to better understand the mechanisms underlying trophic relationships.


See the related paper for details about the method of data collection.

For each field, data are sums across entire duration of experiment for birds and for the two pitfall traps per plot ('cage' or 'control' zone) for arthropods.

Usage notes

Sea README file.


French National Institute for Agricultural Research

François Sommer Foundation

University of Eastern Finland

French Office for Biodiversity

French Foundation for Biodiversity Research

Labex BASC