Ecosystem services and disservices by birds and bats in fruit orchards

GRANTS (PI):

PID2020-120239RR-I00 (MM/DG)

Funded by MCIN/ AEI/10.13039/501100011033/ and FEDER “Una manera de hacer Europa”

TEAM:

MARCOS MIÑARRO (PI)

DANIEL GARCÍA (PI)

JUAN CARLOS ILLERA

PETER HAMBÄCK (UNIVERSITY OF STOCKHOLM)

AITOR SOMOANO (SERIDA)

MARCOS BUENO (SERIDA)

What we seek …

We will apply an ecological trophic approach to understand the role and final net effect of two animal groups, birds and bats, as providers of services and disservices in apple and blueberry in Asturias (N Spain).

Specifically, we seek 1) to characterise bat assemblages in apple orchards across a wide range of environmental conditions; 2) to determine the role of birds, bats and spiders as predators of apple and blueberry pests; and 3) to quantify the net effects of birds and bats in blueberry crops.

What we will do …

We will monitor bat communities in the field, across a wide gradient of management and landscape conditions in apple orchards.

By applying DNA-metabarcoding techniques to faecal/gut content of predators, we will assess the trophic interactions between birds, bats, spiders and apple and blueberry pests.

We will estimate, by means of selective exclusion experiments, the relative role of birds and bats in blueberry crop yields.

What we expect …

We are expecting to find variable levels of bat biodiversity in apple orchards, depending on the availability of semi-natural woody habitats in the landscape and the degree of agricultural intensification within orchards.

Complex trophic networks should emerge between birds, bats, spiders and crop pests, including pest control but also intraguild predation.

Insectivorous birds and bats probably control pests in blueberry, but some bird species may consume berries, determining negative net effects in crop yield.

We hope to generate knowledge and models of biodiversity management for fruit growers, in order to improving yields while developing environment-friendly agriculture.