Landscape composition and configuration affect the abundance of the olive moth (Prays oleae, Bernard) in olive groves

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Landscape and crop management are important concepts for conservation biological control as they can influence the abundance of natural enemies. In this work we accomplished a multi-scale study focused on the effect of landscape structure and crop management on the olive moth, Prays oleae (Bernard), an important pest of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.). The olive moth was collected in different olive groves managed under organic farming and integrated production and surrounded by different landscape structures. Generalized additive mixed models were used to analyze the response of the pest to (i) landscape composition and configuration indices, (ii) the management system and (iii) pesticides applications at different scales. Results indicated that the landscape composition, through the effect of the Simpson’s diversity index, negatively influenced P. oleae abundance and that the effect was evident at larger scales. Also, the landscape configuration negatively affected P. oleae at larger scales. However, neither the crop management system nor the pesticide applications affected P. oleae abundance. This study emphasizes that the preservation or implementation of diverse and complex landscapes can contribute to maintain lower population levels of P. oleae when compared with homogenous landscape areas.