Sharing the burden: Cabbage stem flea beetle pest pressure and crop damage are lower in rapeseed fields surrounded by other rapeseed crops

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Daniel J Leybourne , Antonia M C Pahl, Petra Melloh, Emily A Martin


The cabbage stem flea beetle (Psylliodes chrysocephala) is a significant pest of rapeseed (Brassica napus). Feeding by adult P. chrysocephala can cause severe leaf damage and larval infestation can reduce stem strength, both of which impact crop growth and development, causing substantial yield losses and economic damage. The structure of the agricultural landscape can regulate herbivorous pest populations through top-down and bottom-up processes. This has shown promise in regulating the populations of other herbivorous pests, but remains relatively unexplored for P. chrysocephala. Here we investigate how the structure of the agricultural landscape influences P. chrysocephala abundance (pest pressure) and associated crop damage. We also examine the effect of the landscape on natural enemies and their ability to regulate P. chrysocephala populations. We show that P. chrysocephala populations are primarily regulated through bottom-up processes. We identify adjacency to another rapeseed crop and the total proportion of rapeseed grown in the landscape as key factors influencing beetle pressure, crop damage, and larval infestation, but find no effect of host crop proportions grown in the previous year at the examined scales up to 1 km surrounding focal crops. We also observe positive effects of crop heterogeneity and semi-natural habitat proportions on natural enemy abundance and diversity; however, these increases had no direct impact on P. chrysocephala. Bottom-up processes appear to contribute to herbivorous pest regulation by diluting beetles in the landscape, and could represent an important mechanism for sustainably managing pest populations by adapting the proportions and neighbourhoods of rapeseed crops at small to large spatial scales.



Agriculture, Entomology, Life Sciences, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Herbivorous pest, Pest suppression, Pest regulation, Psylliodes chrysocephala


Published: 2023-11-04 02:59

Last Updated: 2023-11-04 06:59


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
Data and code have been archived in the DataCat repository at the University of Liverpool. Access via: