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Great Tits (Parus major) reduce caterpillar damage in commercial apple orchards

Mols, C.M.M. and Visser, M.E. (2007) Great Tits (Parus major) reduce caterpillar damage in commercial apple orchards. PLoS One, 2, e202-. ISSN 1932-6203.

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Alternative ways to control caterpillar pests and reduce the use of pesticides in apple orchards are in the interest of the environment, farmers and the public. Great tits have already been shown to reduce damage under high caterpillar density when breeding in nest boxes in an experimental apple orchard. We tested whether this reduction also occurs under practical conditions of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), as well as Organic Farming (OF), by setting up an area with nest boxes while leaving a comparable area as a control within 12 commercial orchards. We showed that in IPM orchards, but not in OF orchards, in the areas with breeding great tits, apples had 50% of the caterpillar damage of the control areas. Offering nest boxes to attract insectivorous passerines in orchards can thus lead to more limited pesticide use, thereby adding to the natural biological diversity in an agricultural landscape, while also being economically profitable to the fruit growers.

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:4599
Deposited On:16 Sep 2009 02:00
Last Modified:02 Nov 2011 16:30

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