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TitleThe role of biodiversity on pest control ecosystem services in UK apple orchards
AuthorSelvey, Charlotte A.
AbstractIn this thesis I assess the ability of biodiversity to provide a functioning pest control ecosystem service to control moth pest species in UK apple orchards. I assess the ability of four types of farm management: organic, Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF), integrated pest management (IPM) and conventional, to measure the ability of pest predation from birds, and the impact that predation has on apple yields. I firstly describe the history and the landscape of the study area, an overview of the methods used and the farming systems that the field study and experiments took place on in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3 I assess farmland biodiversity by monitoring birds and butterflies as indicator species of biodiversity, to understand if farm management impacts biodiversity levels. Biodiversity was highest on organic orchards, which supports the plethora of studies in the literature. Using this information of biodiversity levels on orchard management types, in Chapter 4 I investigate whether this biodiversity supports a pest control service, and to a natural pest control service compares to a synthetic alternate used on non-organic orchards, through using a sentinel prey experiment in field. Pest control services were greater on organic farms, and followed the same patterns as insectivorous bird abundance, species richness, diversity, and density. This chapter also compares moth pest levels to understand the pest pressures across farms, which harbour different pest control strategies and showed that moth pest levels were broadly similar across all farm management types. Finally, in Chapter 5 I compare the farm management options available to famers, both the natural pest control system and the synthetic control system, using economic valuation methods. Although a natural pest control service from birds is present on organic orchards (Chapter 4), the yield per hectare increased significantly on non-organic orchards (expect LEAF) but is found to be in-different to yield value per hectare of organic orchards in variable scenarios. Importantly, the synthetic alternative to a pest control service available from wild insectivorous birds was found to be an insignificant farm management variable that impacts apple yield and yield value on non-organic orchards.
TypeThesis; Doctoral
PublisherUCL (University College London)
Source Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).