Birds help keep vineyards pest-free

Nov 09, 2011

Properly functioning ecosystems have their own pest management system – predation – but as new manmade ecosystems develop, these natural maintenance systems are often disrupted. In some cases, though, installing a simple nest box may be all that's needed to restore the balance, and improve avian conservation, according to a new report published Nov. 9 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Julie Jedlicka of the University of California, Berkeley, monitored the effect of nest boxes in California vineyards. These boxes provide homes for a number of species, including the Western Bluebird, which were the focus of the study. They found that the nest boxes increased the avian species richness by over 50% compared to sites without the boxes, the overall insectivorous bird density nearly quadrupled, and the Western Bluebird abundance increased 10-fold.

"Insectivorous are often overlooked as sources of pest predation, however, they are likely providing pest control services in many agricultural fields, we just need to look for it", says Jedlicka.

Importantly, this increase was limited to insectivorous birds, and there was no discernible increase in the abundance of other bird species that sometimes eat grapes. They also found that the sites with nest boxes were better protected from potential pest infestations. These results suggest an effective method for vineyards to simultaneously protect their crop and encourage avian conservation.

Explore further: Can pollution help trees fight infection?

More information: PLoS ONE 6(11):e27347. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027347

Related Stories

Birds take cues from their competitors

Jul 05, 2007

The idea that animals other than humans can learn from one another and pass on local traditions has long been a matter of debate. Now, a new study reveals that some birds learn not only from each other, but also from their ...

Bumblebee nest boxes don't work

May 06, 2011

Bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies and other pollinating insects are in decline worldwide. So what better way to help stem their decline than by installing a bumblebee nest box in your garden? The only trouble ...

New Zealand bird outwits alien predators

Jun 04, 2008

New research published in this week's PLoS ONE, led by Dr Melanie Massaro and Dr Jim Briskie at the University of Canterbury, which found that the New Zealand bellbird is capable of changing its nesting behaviour to protect ...

Recommended for you

Can pollution help trees fight infection?

5 hours ago

Trees that can tolerate soil pollution are also better at defending themselves against pests and pathogens. "It looks like the very act of tolerating chemical pollution may give trees an advantage from biological ...

Stink bugs have strong taste for ripe fruit

6 hours ago

The brown marmorated stink bug has a bad reputation. And for good reason: every summer, this pest attacks crops and invades homes, causing both sizable economic losses and a messy, smelly nuisance—especially ...

Iceland whaling season underway despite protest

9 hours ago

Icelandic whaling boats have left port to begin the 2015 whaling season, authorities said on Monday as more than 700,000 people signed a petition calling for an end to the hunt.

Study suggests there are only two tiger subspecies

14 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with affiliations to institutions in Germany, Denmark and the U.K. has concluded after extensive research, that there are really only two subspecies of tigers, as opposed ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.