Landscape Complexity has Mixed Effects on an Invasive Aphid and Its Natural Enemies in Sorghum Agroecosystems. Academic Article uri icon


  • Landscapes with more complex composition and configuration are generally expected to enhance natural enemy densities and pest suppression. To evaluate this hypothesis for an invasive aphid pest of sorghum, Melanaphis sorghi Theobald (Hemiptera: Aphididae), sampling in sorghum fields for aphids and natural enemies was conducted over two years in a southern U.S. coastal production region. Landscape composition and configuration of crop and noncrop elements were assessed using correlation and multivariate regression modeling to detect relationships with insects at different spatial scales. Significant models found more complex landscape configuration, particularly the amount of habitat edges, was associated with increased aphid and natural enemy abundance. Composition associated with noncrop habitats had the opposite effect. Numerical response of natural enemies was taxa dependent, with parasitism lower as landscape complexity increased, while predator numerical response was not affected by landscape complexity. These results indicate landscape complexity may increase both aphid and natural enemy abundance, but with decreasing parasitism and little association with predator numerical response. These relationships are likely contingent on overall environmental suitability to aphid population increase as results were less evident in the second year when average aphid abundance regularly exceeded the economic threshold. This study supports the importance of configuration, especially habitat borders, as a critical metric for determining pest-natural enemy dynamics within a large-scale cereal agroecosystem.

published proceedings

  • Environ Entomol

author list (cited authors)

  • Elkins, B. H., Eubanks, M. D., Faris, A. M., Wang, H., & Brewer, M. J.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Elkins, Blake H||Eubanks, Micky D||Faris, Ashleigh M||Wang, Hsiao-Hsuan||Brewer, Michael J

editor list (cited editors)

  • Little, N.

publication date

  • January 2022