Ecosystem services in agriculture

Last changed: 14 July 2021
Bumble bee in a rape seed field.

The Bommarco lab empirically and theoretically explores ecosystem functions in insect-plant-soil food webs in agricultural ecosystems. We apply this to crop production, pest control and pollination.

Ecosystem services in agriculture

Food web ecology

We explore how level and stability of ecosystem functions are delivered by arthropod-plant-soil food webs affected by land use, fertilization, disturbance and climate change. We map arthropod-plant food webs along land use gradients, with intensive sampling of abundances combined with DNA metabarcoding of consumer gut contents to assess who eats whom. We perform microcosm experiments and mathematical modelling, to understand how species traits such as body size and  spatial niche, determine the ecosystem services pest regulation and crop yield in food webs. An overarching aim is to use food web ecology to inform the link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

PhD student Guillermo Aguilera Nuñez,
PhD student Kate Wootton
Postdoc Yuval Zelnik

Collaborators: Prof. Tomas Roslin, Alva Curtsdotter Dr. Kirsten Miller  ], Dr. Tomas Jonsson, Prof John Banks  Prof HT Banks Prof HT Banks , Dr. Amanda Laubmeier, 

Insect pest management

We work with the ecology and develop integrated practices to manage insect pests in major Swedish crops such as oilseed rape, field beans and cereals. We work with insects that damage oilseed rape at emergence (flea beetles, stem flea beetles and slugs) and in the summer (e.g. pollen beetles, pod midges). We examine pests on field beans (Bruchus seed weevils, aphids), and aphids in cereals. We analyse abundance time series to identify climatic and biological factors that regulate the populations. We investigate the efficiency of farming practices such as sowing flower strips, reduced tillage, increased seeding rate and altered seeding date as pest management options.  We contribute to global syntheses of pest control research.

Dr. Ola Lundin
Postdoc Sara Emery
PhD student Chloë Raderschall (field beans)
PhD student Guillermo Aguilera Nuñez  (oilseed rape)

Collaborators: Albin Gunnarson, Swedish Seed and Oilseed Growers; Anders Lindgren, Plant Protection Centers at the Swedish Board of Agriculture; Lars Danielsson, Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies, Dr. Sandra Lindström, Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies.

Crop pollination

We examine benefits and management of pollination and pest control provided by naturally occurring arthropod predators in flowering crops such as field beans, oilseed rape and red clover. We test how landscape context and management such as crop rotation, plantings of flower strips and adding honey bees to flowering fields affect ecosystem services of pollination and crop yield. We explore population ecology and pollination efficiency of bumble bees, solitary bees, syrphid flies and other pollinating insects. We contribute to in global syntheses of pollination research.

PhD student Chloë Raderschall

Collaborators: Prof Neal Williams, Dr. Ola Lundin,  Dr. Sandra Lindström, Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies

Weed seed predation

Ground dwelling invertebrates such as carabid beetles, but also small mammals and certain birds contribute to natural weed regulation by eating weed seeds. We ask how important this ecosystem service is for weed regulation and how species diversity and abundance of seed predators determine seed predation in Sweden and across Europe. The research is part of the BioAWARE project in which we perform experiments and modelling to test how different types of predator diversity (species richness, abundance, diversity of functional groups) affects weed seed predation, and how to best manage weed seed predators to increase weed seed predation.

Read more: Weed seed predation – an overlooked ecosystem service.

PhD student Eirini Daouti

Collaborators: Dr. Mattias Jonsson, Dave Bohan (INRA, France), Michael Traugott (University of Innsbruck, Austria), Pavel Saska (Crop Researcgh Institute, Czech Repubilc), Wopke van der Werf (Wageningen University, The Netherlands)

Page editor: anna.lundmark@slu.se