Predation of potential insect pests in oil palm plantations, rubber tree plantations, and fruit orchards

Nuradilah Denan, Wan Mamat Wan Zaki, Ahmad R. Norhisham, Ruzana Sanusi, Dzulhelmi Muhammad Nasir, Frisco Nobilly, Adham Ashton-Butt, Alex M. Lechner, Badrul Azhar

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28 Citations (Scopus)


In human-modified landscapes, important ecological functions such as predation are negatively affected by anthropogenic activities, including the use of pesticides and habitat degradation. Predation of insect pests is an indicator of healthy ecosystem functioning, which provides important ecosystem services, especially for agricultural systems. In this study, we compare predation attempts from arthropods, mammals, and birds on artificial caterpillars in the understory, between three tropical agricultural land-use types: oil palm plantations, rubber tree plantations, and fruit orchards. We collected a range of local and landscape-scale data including undergrowth vegetation structure; elevation; proximity to forest; and canopy cover in order to understand how environmental variables can affect predation. In all three land-use types, our results showed that arthropods and mammals were important predators of artificial caterpillars and there was little predation by birds. We did not find any effect of the environmental variables on predation. There was an interactive effect between land-use type and predator type. Predation by mammals was considerably higher in fruit orchards and rubber tree than in oil palm plantations, likely due to their ability to support higher abundances of insectivorous mammals. In order to maintain or enhance natural pest control in these common tropical agricultural land-use types, management practices that benefit insectivorous animals should be introduced, such as the reduction of pesticides, improvement of understory vegetation, and local and landscape heterogeneity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-661
Number of pages8
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • artificial caterpillar
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem services
  • monoculture
  • polyculture

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