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

  • Matthias Tschumi
  • Johan Ekroos
  • Cecilia Hjort
  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Klaus Birkhofer
Publishing year: 2018-09-05
Language: English
Pages: 863-873
Publication/Series: Oecologia
Volume: 188
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

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.


  • Ecology
  • Biological control
  • Predators
  • Semi-natural grasslands
  • Weed control
  • Wildlife cameras


  • ISSN: 0029-8549
E-mail: cecilia [dot] hjort [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Doctoral student



Research group

Biodiversity and Conservation Science


Understanding the adaptive genetic capacity of bumble bees in a changing world


Main supervisor

B.terrestris worker flying out of its nest