Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Beneficial insects in integrated agro-ecosystems

The project created a network among the European scientists currently working on the enhancement, dispersal and population dynamics of beneficial insects in sustainable agroecosystems. This was achieved by organizing workshops and increasing contacts between the European research groups working on this complex subject. This was done to ensure that the current research programmes being carried out enhance the biotic components in integrated farming systems and are as effective as possible. The environmental benefit of this project is the promotion of knowledge on how to increase biotic diversity and resilience in agroecosystems and hence to reduce the need for pesticides.

A series of international workshops discussed research progress and development of methodology for studying beneficial insects such as ground beetles, spiders, parasitoids, coccinellids and syrphids in agroecosystems. Three topics were selected: estimating population densities and dispersal rates of beneficial insects in agroecosystems;enhancement, survival and reproduction of beneficial insects in relation to food availability and quality of the habitat; analysing and modelling the population-dynamics of beneficial insects in agroecosystems. Each workshop was attended by experts from a number of well established groups from Research Institutes and Universities throughout Europe. Summaries of all contributions to the workshop are available. The workshops significantly increased contacts between research groups Exchange of methodologies were particularly useful with respect to habitat management, measurement of dispersal and densities and the use of new simulation modelling techniques. Knowledge gaps have been pinpointed on larval ecology of ground beetles, mortality factors in almost all beneficials and the ecology of sinks and sources at the local and regional landscape level. Due to involvement of participants in wider agricultural research programs, the enhancement of beneficial insects has become a more apparent theme in the development of integrated, organic and other sustainable farming systems.