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Climate-warming alters the structure of farmland tri-trophic ecological networks and reduces crop yield

Derocles, Stephane A.P.; Lunt, David H.; Berthe, Sophie C.F.; Nichols, Paul C.; Moss, Ellen D.; Evans, Darren M.


Stephane A.P. Derocles

Sophie C.F. Berthe

Paul C. Nichols

Ellen D. Moss

Darren M. Evans


It is unclear how sustained increases in temperature and changes in precipitation, as a result of climate change, will affect crops and their interactions with agricultural weeds, insect pests and predators, due to the difficulties in quantifying changes in such complex relationships. We simulated the combined effects of increasing temperature (by an average of 1.4°C over a growing season) and applying additional rainwater (10% of the monthly mean added weekly, 40% total) using a replicated, randomized block experiment within a wheat crop. We examined how this affected the structure of 24 quantitative replicate plant–aphid–parasitoid networks constructed using DNA-based methods. Simulated climate warming affected species richness, significantly altered consumer–resource asymmetries and reduced network complexity. Increased temperature induced an aphid outbreak, but the parasitism rates of aphids by parasitoid wasps remained unchanged. It also drove changes in the crop, altering in particular the phenology of the wheat as well as its quality (i.e., fewer, lighter seeds). We discuss the importance of considering the wider impacts of climate change on interacting species across trophic levels in agroecosystems.


Derocles, S. A., Lunt, D. H., Berthe, S. C., Nichols, P. C., Moss, E. D., & Evans, D. M. (2018). Climate-warming alters the structure of farmland tri-trophic ecological networks and reduces crop yield. Molecular ecology, 27(23), 4931-4946.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 3, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 22, 2018
Publication Date 2018-12
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2022
Publicly Available Date Apr 21, 2022
Journal Molecular Ecology
Print ISSN 0962-1083
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 23
Pages 4931-4946
Keywords DNA barcoding; Ecosystem services; Food security; Food webs; Global warming; Natural pest control
Public URL


Accepted manuscript (322 Kb)

Copyright Statement
©2018 The authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder

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