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Predation on sentinel prey increases with increasing latitude in Brassica-dominated agroecosystems

Citation

Gray, Hannah et al. (2022), Predation on sentinel prey increases with increasing latitude in Brassica-dominated agroecosystems, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.73n5tb30h

Abstract

In natural ecosystems, arthropod predation on herbivore prey is higher at lower latitudes, mirroring the latitudinal diversity gradient observed across many taxa. This pattern has not been systematically examined in human-dominated ecosystems, where frequent disturbances can shift the identity and abundance of local predators, altering predation rates from those observed in natural ecosystems. We investigated the how latitude, biogeographical, and local ecological factors influenced arthropod predation in Brassica oleracea dominated agroecosystems in 55 plots spread among 5 sites in the United States and 4 sites in Brazil, spanning at least 15º latitude in each country. In both the United States and Brazil, arthropod predator attacks on sentinel model caterpillar prey were highest at the highest latitude studied and declined at lower latitudes. The rate of increased arthropod attacks per degree latitude was higher in the United States and the overall gradient was shifted poleward as compared to Brazil. PiecewiseSEM analysis revealed that aridity mediates the effect of latitude on arthropod predation and largely explains the differences in the intensity of the latitudinal gradient between study countries. Neither predator richness, predator density, nor predator resource availability predicted variation in predator attack rates. Only greater non-crop plant density drove greater predation rates, though this effect was weaker than the effect of aridity. We conclude that climatic factors rather than ecological community structure shapes latitudinal arthropod predation patterns and that high levels of aridity in agroecosystems may dampen the ability of arthropod predators to provide herbivore control services as compared to natural ecosystems. --

Methods

Datasets were collected in 2017 at on-farm research plots in the United States and Brazil. 

Usage Notes

Excel or LibreOffice Calc

Funding

United States Agency for International Development, Award: US-Borlaug-Fellowship-207495

Environmental Protection Agency, Award: FP917780

Graduate School, University of Minnesota, Award: NA

National Institute for Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, Award: 2016-67030-24950

National Institute for Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture, Award: 2020-67034-31758