Land cover diversity increases predator aggregation and consumption of prey

Hannah J. Penn, Kacie J. Athey, Brian D. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


A lower diversity of land cover types is purported to decrease arthropod diversity in agroecosystems and is dependent on patterns of land use and fragmentation. Ants, important providers of ecosystem services such as biological control, are susceptible to landscape-level changes. We determined the relationships between land cover diversity and fragmentation on the within-field spatial associations of ants to pests and resulting predation events by combining mapping and molecular tools. Increased land cover diversity and decreased fragmentation increased ant abundance, spatial association to pests and predation. Land cover diversity and fragmentation were more explanatory than land cover types. Even so, specific land cover types, such as deciduous forest, influenced ant and pest diversity more so than abundance. These results indicate that geospatial techniques and molecular gut content analysis can be combined to determine the role of land use in influencing predator–prey interactions and resulting predation events in agroecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-618
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Food web
  • Formicidae
  • landscape ecology
  • molecular gut content
  • spatial aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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