Island Arthropod Macroecology

AGRO-ECOSERVICES - Assessing ecosystem services and disservices provided by arthropod species in Azorean agroecosystem

  • PO Azores Project
  • Regional Research Project
  • 2019 to 2022

We plan to set the investigations in Azorean agro-ecosystems (pastures, maize fields, vineyards, citrus orchards), which greatly depend economically on ES. Understanding and managing the biodiversity dynamics of island agro-ecosystems for improving ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ES/ED is a key challenge that needs attention. In fact, the crops with the largest cultivation area on the AIs are pastures, followed by maize. Maize–pasture rotation is common, both serving animal production. Due to their long coexistence and close taxonomic relationship (both are grasses), several pests interact with both crops all year round (P. Monjardino, pers. observ.). These interactions need to be further understood, because significant yield losses are presently occurring in both crops. Vineyards and citrus orchards are among the most important crops in AIs. Both crops have significant problems with pests and diseases due to benign environmental conditions that facilitate their propagation and sometimes due to improper cultural practices.

Our main objectives are:
1) To assess the major ecosystem services (ES) and ecosystem disservices (ED) provided by selected groups of native and exotic arthropods (pollinators and predatory spiders, true-bugs and beetles and also main insect pests) living in cultivated habitats (pastures, maize fields, vineyards, citrus orchards), and in selected natural ecosystem sites which will serve as reference monitoring locations;
2) To study the interrelationships between arthropod biodiversity (pollinators and predatory spiders, true-bugs and beetles and main insect pests), functionality and ES/ED across the selected Azorean agroecosystems;
3) To implement ecological manipulative studies to enhance ES and possibly minimize ED in the selected Azorean agroecosystems;
4) Following EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 (which foresees in Target 2, Action 5), map and assess the state of ecosystems and their services on the Azores, accounting and reporting systems at EU and national level by 2020 ;
5) To map and classify the ES that agro-ecosystems provide through living organisms, by using the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) protocol;
6) To adopt S/EICAT [39], to classify the contributions that agro-ecosystems make to human well-being that arise from living organisms;
7) Science outreach targeting different stakeholders, including the establishment of a pilot demonstration project;
8) To propose a standardized rapid and reliable monitoring system for ecosystem functioning.

Funding Institution:

DRCT - PO AZORES2020 (Funding: 179,947.85 Euros) - This work was financed by FEDER in 85% and by Azorean Public funds by 15% through Operational Program Azores 2020.


The team of the project includes six members: 

Team leader: Paulo A. V. Borges (Ph.D.; Azorean Biodiversity Group, cE3c);
Co-leader: António Onofre Soares (Ph.D.; Azorean Biodiversity Group, cE3c); 
-Artur Gil (Ph.D.; Azorean Biodiversity Group, cE3c).
-David Horta Lopes (Ph.D.; Azorean Biodiversity Group, cE3c).
-Marco Girardello (Ph.D.; Azorean Biodiversity Group, cE3c).
-Paulo Monjardino (Ph.D.; Biotechnology Center of Azores, CBA).

As Collaborators we have:

Gabor Lövei: Senior Scientist, Aarhus University, Flakkebjerg Research Centre, Slagelse, Denmark);

-François Rigal:  Assistant Professor in Biostatistics in the Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour, France);

Sven Bacher: Professor of Ecology, University of Fribourg, Department of Biology, Fribourg, Switzerland.