Insect natural enemies as bioindicators in rice paddies

  • Ueno, Takatoshi (Institute of Biological Control, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University)
  • Received : 2012.11.13
  • Accepted : 2012.12.10
  • Published : 2012.12.31


In Asia, including Japan and Korea, rice paddies occupy the largest cultivated area in agricultural land. Rice paddies provide the habitats for many organisms including endemic species, sustaining high biodiversity. Insect natural enemies inhabiting rice paddies have an important function for rice production as agents of 'ecosystem services' because they play a major role in suppressing rice pests. The diversity and abundance of natural enemies can be a good index reflecting the 'healthiness' of agro-ecosystem services in rice paddies. The present study investigates whether insect natural enemies could be good biological indicators for general arthropod biodiversity and agricultural practice. First, the concept of ideal bio-indicators was summarized. The strategy to explore and select such bio-indicators was then proposed. Lastly, field survey was made to evaluate the abundance and biodiversity of natural enemies in Japanese rice paddies where chemical inputs, i.e., insecticide use, were different. The results showed that reduction of chemical inputs led to an increase in species richness or diversity of natural enemies including parasitoids and predators. Then, the data were analyzed to examine suitable indicator species to assess environmental soundness of agricultural practice and biodiversity in rice paddies. The density of several species of natural enemies did respond both to pesticide use and to general arthropod biodiversity. The analyses thus have indicated that natural enemies can be suitable as bio-indicators. Usefulness of indicator species in rice paddies is discussed in the context of ecologically sound agriculture.



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