A major subtropical fruit pest accumulates in crop fields and spills over to a wild host
van Veen, FJF
Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License
Reason for embargo
Wild plant species are often considered a source of crop pests in mixed landscapes but this view rarely considers pest spillover in the opposite direction (from crop fields to natural vegetation), or spatiotemporal variability in resources between crop and wild habitats. We investigate how infestation of mango crop (Mangifera indica, Anacardiaceae) and a related wild host (marula, Sclerocarya birrea, Anacardiaceae) by a major subtropical fruit crop pest (Ceratitis cosyra, Diptera: Tephritidae) varies with distance from the boundary between crop and natural vegetation. We determined how infestation of marula is associated with proximity to mango crops at field and landscape scales over two fruiting seasons on three farms in north-eastern South Africa. This is one of few studies to date to consider pest spillover from crop fields to natural vegetation and the only one performed in a biodiverse region with relatively little habitat transformation. Over three sampling periods, C. cosyra infestation of marula always decreased with distance from mango fields. At the landscape scale, marula alongside crop fields were 30 times more likely to be infested than in distant vegetation (1.3–6 km from mango), suggesting that spillover occurs from crop fields to natural vegetation. During late mango and marula fruiting, twice as many flies infested marula than mango. However, over the two months post-mango fruiting, up to 25 times more C. cosyra were trapped in mango fields than in bordering natural vegetation. Although pests spillover from crop fields into natural vegetation to use marula as an alternate host, biological control in the natural vegetation may eliminate this habitat as a pest reservoir outside the crop season. Other nearby crops may be more important than wild hosts for maintaining C. cosyra out of mango season. Landscape planning should consider proximity and arrangement of fields containing crops that host shared pests at different times of the year.
This research was supported by the Mare Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme [Contract number 318929]; the National Research Foundation of South Africa [Grant number 90139]; and the South African Department of Science and Technology [Contract number 0054/2013].
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the publisher via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 242, pp. 102 - 109