Local and landscape effects in a host-parasitoid interaction network along a forest-cropland gradient

Osorio S., Arnan X., Bassols E., Vicens N., Bosch J. (2015) Local and landscape effects in a host-parasitoid interaction network along a forest-cropland gradient. Ecological Applications. 25: 1869-1879.
Doi: 10.1890/14-2476.1


Land-use driven habitat modification is a major driver of biodiversity loss and impoverishment of interaction diversity. This may affect ecosystem services such as pollination and biological control. Our objective is to analyze the effects of local (nesting environment: farms vs. tree stands) and landscape (forest-cropland gradient) factors on the structure and composition of a cavity-nesting bee-wasp (CNBW) community, their nests associates (henceforth parasitoids), and their interactions. We set up 24 nest-trapping stations in a fragmented, extensively farmed area of ∼100 km2. We obtained 2035 nests containing 7572 brood cells representing 17 bee and 18 wasp species, attacked by 20 parasitoid species. Community structure and composition, as well as network structure, were much more dependent on local than on landscape factors. Host abundance and richness were higher in farms. In addition, host abundance was positively correlated to cropland cover. We also found highly significant differences between nesting environments in host community composition. Structure and composition of the parasitoid community were conditioned by the structure and composition of the host community. Network structure was affected by nesting environment but not by landscape factors. Interactions tended to be more diverse in farms. This result was mostly explained by differences in network size (greater in farms). However, generality was significantly higher in farms even after controlling for network size, indicating that differences in species' interaction patterns associated to differences in community composition between the two nesting environments are also affecting network structure. In conclusion, open habitats associated with extensively farmed exploitations favor local CNBW diversity (especially bees) and result in more complex host-parasitoid interaction networks in comparison to forested areas. The conservation value of this kind of open habitat is important in view of the progressive abandonment of extensively cultivated farmland taking place in Europe at the expense of agricultural intensification and reforestation. © 2015 by the Ecological Society of America.

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