Rodents, not birds, dominate predation-related ecosystem services and disservices in vertebrate communities of agricultural landscapes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To understand the relationship between conservation measures and agricultural yields, we need to know the contributions of organisms to both ecosystem services and disservices. We studied the activity and contribution of birds and mammals to intermediate ecosystem services (predation of weed seeds or invertebrate pests) and disservices (predation of crop seeds or beneficial invertebrates) in southern Sweden between June and November 2016. We measured seed and invertebrate predation rates using trays placed in front of 32 wildlife cameras in 16 cereal fields with a local habitat contrast (8 fields adjacent to another crop field and 8 fields adjacent to a semi-natural grassland) and along a landscape heterogeneity gradient (amount of semi-natural grassland). Both activity and predation were dominated by small mammals (mainly rodents), yet only a few species contributed to predation services and disservices according to camera records. Small mammal activity and predation varied considerably over time. Small mammal activity was significantly higher at trays with crop seeds or beneficial invertebrate prey compared to trays with pest prey, and crop seed predation by small mammals was significantly higher than weed seed predation. In contrast, bird activity and predation did not differ significantly between resource types, but varied over time depending on the habitat contrast. Predation of animal prey by birds was highest after cereal harvest, independent of habitat contrast. Our study highlights that birds and in particular rodents provide important intermediate ecosystem services, but also disservices, which fluctuate strongly in intensity over time.


External organisations
  • The Swiss Ornithological Institute
  • Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus- Senftenberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • Biological control, Predators, Semi-natural grasslands, Weed control, Wildlife cameras
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-873
Issue number3
Early online date2018 Sep 5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch

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