Insects and flowers, the key to optimising agricultural production?

Biodiversity useful to humans in agricultural landscapes is in danger. A study was carried out by Lucy Alford and Joan Van Baaren of the ECOBIO laboratory (University of Rennes 1/CNRS - OSUR) as part of the European FAB project. The aim is to understand how to promote this biodiversity.
Lucy Alford-Projet FAB copyright UR1/Frédéric Obé

Context

"Ecosystem services" are services provided to humans by natural ecosystems. They include regulating ecosystem services, including pollination and the natural regulation of crop pests.
These two services are considered to be the most important ones that biodiversity can provide to agriculture worldwide.

However, the intensive use of pesticides in agro-systems, the spatial simplification of agricultural landscapes and the increased frequency of disturbances due to agricultural intensification and climate change have led to declines in beneficial insect populations and associated ecosystem services.
Actions that could be taken to promote the sustainability of ecosystem services in the future depend on understanding the mechanisms by which beneficial insects provide these services.

Among these actions, the installation of flower strips around large cereal crops could favour both pollinators, which lack floral resources in this landscape context, and the parasitoid insects responsible for regulating crop pests, which also need floral nectar to increase their longevity and thus their effectiveness in regulating pests.

These flowerbeds can improve the services provided by pollinators and crop pest insects, but they can also compete with each other in the flowerbeds, reducing the effectiveness of one or the other service.

It is therefore necessary to understand whether these much-needed insects (pollinators and predators/parasitoids of crop pests) interact synergistically or antagonistically in the vicinity of flower strips.

Objective

The FAB project aims to understand how to promote this biodiversity useful to humans in agricultural landscapes, in order to restore these ecosystem services and optimise agricultural productivity.

Carried out in collaboration with the Yves Rocher company, the project will use cereal and flower fields in Bretagne. This vegetation will be used to study the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of the main species that provide ecosystem services.

This will enable us to discover how the services provided by insects are translated into concrete terms on agricultural land.

 

Recruiting

The project will enable the winner of the MSCA (Marie Sklodowska Curie Action) grant, Lucy Alford, to increase her visibility in her field and to develop future collaborative relationships.

A 6-month secondment to the Yves Rocher company will allow her to familiarise herself with the constraints of production and the need to develop a marketing image.

identity card

European project FAB - Marie S. Action Curie Action
Financing : European Commission HORIZON 2020 Programme
Institution: Université de Rennes 1
Beneficiary: Lucy ALFORD
Name of the Scientific Director: Joan VAN BAAREN
Laboratory / UMR: ECOBIO UMR CNRS 6553
Project duration: From 01/09/2019 to 31/05/2022