Daniel S. Karp, University of California - Davis
Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Stanford University
Timothy D. Meehan, National Audubon Society
Emily A. Martin, University of Würzburg, Germany
Fabrice DeClerck, Bioversity International, France
Heather Grab, Cornell University
Claudio Gratton, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Lauren Hunt, University of Maryland
Ashley E. Larsen, University of California - Santa Barbara
Alejandra Martínez-Salinas, Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), Costa Rica
Megan E. O’Rourke, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Adrien Rusch, Université de Bordeaux, France
Katja Poveda, Cornell University
Mattias Jonsson, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
Jay A. Rosenheim, University of California - Davis
Nancy A. Schellhorn, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia
Teja Tscharntke, University of Goettingen, Germany
Stephen D. Wratten, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Wei Zhang, International Food Policy Research Institute
Aaron L. Iverson, Cornell University
Lynn S. Adler, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
Matthias Albrecht, Agroscope, Switzerland
Audrey Alignier, INRA, France
Gina M. Angelella, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Muhammad Zubair Anjum, Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, India
Jacques Avelino, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), France
Péter Batáry, University of Goettingen, Germany
Johannes M. Baveco, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Felix J. J. A. Bianchi, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Klaus Birkhofer, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany
David J. Gonthier, University of KentuckyFollow


The idea that noncrop habitat enhances pest control and represents a win–win opportunity to conserve biodiversity and bolster yields has emerged as an agroecological paradigm. However, while noncrop habitat in landscapes surrounding farms sometimes benefits pest predators, natural enemy responses remain heterogeneous across studies and effects on pests are inconclusive. The observed heterogeneity in species responses to noncrop habitat may be biological in origin or could result from variation in how habitat and biocontrol are measured. Here, we use a pest-control database encompassing 132 studies and 6,759 sites worldwide to model natural enemy and pest abundances, predation rates, and crop damage as a function of landscape composition. Our results showed that although landscape composition explained significant variation within studies, pest and enemy abundances, predation rates, crop damage, and yields each exhibited different responses across studies, sometimes increasing and sometimes decreasing in landscapes with more noncrop habitat but overall showing no consistent trend. Thus, models that used landscape-composition variables to predict pest-control dynamics demonstrated little potential to explain variation across studies, though prediction did improve when comparing studies with similar crop and landscape features. Overall, our work shows that surrounding noncrop habitat does not consistently improve pest management, meaning habitat conservation may bolster production in some systems and depress yields in others. Future efforts to develop tools that inform farmers when habitat conservation truly represents a win–win would benefit from increased understanding of how landscape effects are modulated by local farm management and the biology of pests and their enemies.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in PNAS, v. 115, no. 33, p. E7863-E7870.

Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.

This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND).

Due to the large number of authors, only the first 30 and the authors affiliated with the University of Kentucky are listed in the author section above. For the complete list of authors, please download this article or visit:

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Funding Information

This work was supported through the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)—National Science Foundation Award DBI-1052875 for the project “Evidence and Decision-Support Tools for Controlling Agricultural Pests with Conservation Interventions” organized by D.S.K. and R.C.-K.

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