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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Insect pest damage increases faba bean (Vicia faba) yield components but only in the absence of insect pollination

Riggi, Laura; Raderschall, Chloë; Lundin, Ola


Identifying and quantifying crop stressors interactions in agroecosystems is necessary to guide sustainable crop management strategies. Over the last 50 years, faba bean cropping area has been declining, partly due to yield instabilities associated with uneven insect pollination and herbivory. Yet, the effect of interactions between pollinators and a key pest, the broad bean beetle Bruchus rufimanus (florivorous and seed predating herbivore) on faba bean yield has not been investigated. Using a factorial cage experiment in the field, we investigated how interactions between two hypothesized stressors, lack of insect pollination by bumblebees and herbivory by the broad bean beetle, affect faba bean yield. Lack of bumblebee pollination reduced bean weight per plant by 15%. Effects of the broad bean beetle differed between the individual plant and the plant-stand level (i.e., when averaging individual plant level responses at the cage level), likely due to high variation in the level of herbivory among individual plants. At the individual plant level, herbivory increased several yield components but only in the absence of pollinators, possibly due to plant overcompensation and/or pollination by the broad bean beetle. At the plant-stand level, we found no effect of the broad bean beetle on yield. However, there was a tendency for heavier individual bean weight with bumblebee pollination, but only in the absence of broad bean beetle herbivory, possibly due to a negative effect of the broad bean beetle on the proportion of legitimate flower visits by bumblebees. This is the first experimental evidence of interactive effects between bumblebees and the broad bean beetle on faba bean yield. Our preliminary findings of negative and indirect associations between the broad bean beetle and individual bean weight call for a better acknowledgment of these interactions in the field in order to understand drivers of crop yield variability in faba bean.


broad bean beetle; compensatory growth; ecosystem services; florivory; non-additive effects; resource allocation

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2022, Volume: 12, number: 3, article number: e8686

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        SLU Plant Protection Network

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