Production benefits from invertebrates (other than pollination and natural pest control) are often overlooked in agroecosystems. There has been much more focus on the impact of insect pests. But invertebrates provide lots of other benefits in production systems. Developing sustainable farming systems is an imperative for our future – sustainable systems are those that produce food and fibre, while also enhancing human well-being and supporting ecosystem function through ecologically-sound management. Understanding how farms can be managed to enhance production via the benefits invertebrates provide is a key to sustainable agriculture.
My latest article has just been published online in Agricultural and Forest Entomology, highlighting how more research on invertebrate life histories and interactions will improve knowledge of ecosystem services – thanks to editor Dr Allan Watt for the opportunity to submit a piece on this important topic.
Unmanaged invertebrates provide numerous benefits in agroecosystems,
including pollination, biological pest control, soil
aeration, waste decomposition and dung removal (Losey &
Vaughan, 2006; Nichols et al., 2008; Cross et al., 2015). A large
body of literature has examined how farm and landscape management
influences beneficial invertebrate communities in agroecosystems
(Bianchi et al., 2006; Chaplin-Kramer et al., 2011;
Kennedy et al., 2013; Nicholls & Altieri, 2013). Yet we know
very little about the direct benefits that these species provide
in agroecosystems, or the ecological and biological mechanisms
underlying these benefits.
Clearly, the future for applied ecosystem services research
is bright. Unmanaged invertebrates are more numerous, more
diverse and more active in global agroecosystems compared
with wild vertebrates, although the knowledge we have of
their distributions, life cycles and interactions is limited relative
to our knowledge of vertebrates. Historically, a strong focus
on invertebrates as pests, both in agroecosystems and society
generally, has left large gaps in knowledge of how interactions
between invertebrates benefit human well-being. Understanding
how invertebrates enhance agricultural production is essential to
inform sustainable management of agroecosystems, and will also
go a long way towards enhancing the perception of invertebrates
Read the rest of the article here, or email me for a copy.
UPDATE: Read-only link here.
© Manu Saunders 2017