PloS one

Spatial and Temporal Potato Intensification Drives Insecticide Resistance in the Specialist Herbivore, Leptinotarsa decemlineata.

PMID 26030877


Landscape-scale intensification of individual crops and pesticide use that is associated with this intensification is an emerging, environmental problem that is expected to have unequal effects on pests with different lifecycles, host ranges, and dispersal abilities. We investigate if intensification of a single crop in an agroecosystem has a direct effect on insecticide resistance in a specialist insect herbivore. Using a major potato pest, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, we measured imidacloprid (neonicotinoid) resistance in populations across a spatiotemporal crop production gradient where potato production has increased in Michigan and Wisconsin, USA. We found that concurrent estimates of area and temporal frequency of potato production better described patterns of imidacloprid resistance among L. decemlineata populations than general measures of agricultural production (% cropland, landscape diversity). This study defines the effects individual crop rotation patterns can have on specialist herbivore insecticide resistance in an agroecosystem context, and how impacts of intensive production can be estimated with general estimates of insecticide use. Our results provide empirical evidence that variation in the intensity of neonicotinoid-treated potato in an agricultural landscape can have unequal impacts on L. decemlineata insecticide insensitivity, a process that can lead to resistance and locally intensive insecticide use. Our study provides a novel approach applicable in other agricultural systems to estimate impacts of crop rotation, increased pesticide dependence, insecticide resistance, and external costs of pest management practices on ecosystem health.