Bird-mediated effects of pest control services on crop productivity: a global synthesis

Pablo Díaz-Siefer, Natalia Olmos-Moya, Francisco E. Fontúrbel, Blas Lavandero, Rocío A. Pozo, Juan L. Celis-Diez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Birds provide important ecosystem services in many ecosystems, including important pest control effects on productive systems. The typically low bird diversity observed in intensive agricultural landscapes renders them more susceptible to pests that cause important economic losses. Although these pests have traditionally been controlled using chemical methods, recent work suggests that bird-mediated biological control is an effective and environmentally friendly form of ecological intensification practice. We conducted a global meta-analysis to synthesize the effect of the exclusion of wild birds on crop damage, pest abundance, and crop yield in agroecosystems. We used 179 case studies from 55 articles, from which we found that wild birds reduced crop damage and pest abundance, but increased crop yield. The positive effect of birds as biological control agents was found to be significant on conventional farms using traditional chemical methods but not on organic farms. Our analysis shows that embracing ecological intensification practices such as using wild bird species as pest control represents a win–win strategy for agriculture and biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-576
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pest Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Crop damage
  • Ecological intensification
  • Ecosystems services
  • Integrated pest management
  • Natural enemies
  • Pest abundance
  • Yield


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