AGROLIZARDS+ Role of lizards in agroenvironments: from trophic networks to ecosystem services

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Project duration January 01, 2023 to December 31, 2025
Funding Body FCT-Portugal


This project aims at implementing a scientifically supported framework based on functional ecology and ecosystem services to aid management decisions in agriculture. The pest-control role of the lizards occupying the (walls surrounding) crops and the management conditions enhancing it will be evaluated by reconstructing the dynamics of agricultural ecosystems and their spatio-temporal variation. The main prediction is that wall lizards act as pest-controllers, but the quality of this ecosystem service depends on how management practices decrease lizard fitness and interfere in trophic networks of which lizards are part. Intensive agriculture employing large amounts of agrochemicals and simplifying habitat is expected to decrease lizard condition and density, releasing pressure on their invertebrate prey and, hence, compromising pest-control, while ecological agriculture minimising agrochemicals and maintaining habitat structure will induce the opposite effects enhancing this ecosystem service and saving considerable management costs and collateral damage. Goals will be achieved through an interactive process. A representative array of sampling sites of widespread cultures will be selected. There, the quality of habitat structure and thermal/hydric environment will be assessed. Reliable estimations of lizard abundance will be obtained. Ecological stress will be inferred form through body condition and parasites. Predation pressure will be estimated using lizard models. Abundance of invertebrate prey will be quantified from of pitfall and sticky traps. Trophic niche measures will be obtained from isotopic signatures. The fraction of potential pests will be identified by metabarcoding. These outcomes will be integrated using fixed and dynamic models. Based on them the ecosystem services provided by the lizards will be formalised and incorporated to ecological economics framework to elaborate guidelines aiding management decisions by stakeholders.

Additional information

Chemical Pesticides / PPP
Taxa Reptilia,  Sauria
Study Framework Field or semi-field experiment,  Laboratory experiment