Marco Ferrante


Marco Ferrante


Project title: Improving methods applicable to environmental risk assessment: quantifying and comparing an important ecosystem service

Project description:

Ecosystem services (ESs) are large-scale ecological processes that benefit humankind. Almost at the same time when their existence and importance was realised, their often unfavourable status was also documented. The ES concept found relevance in environmental risk assessment as well. Human activities or management actions influence ESs, and innovations or environmental management actions are increasingly evaluated via their impact on ESs. One of the most influential changes in current agriculture is the field growing of transgenic crops. These crops have been grown outdoors since 1997, yet their environmental impact continues to be debated. In the last years environmental impact assessment of transgenic crops has sought to consider the effect of such crops on ESs, such as natural pest control, pollination, or decomposition. The aim of this PhD project is to adapt and refine a field method to measure predation rate, an important ES, in cultivated fields in Europe. I intend to use dummy caterpillars, a type of sentinel prey made from plasticine, to measure the intensity of predation in agricultural fields. The experiments will use the field setup of two current projects, AMIGA ( and PURE (, to compare predation pressure in transgenic vs. non-transgenic maize fields in different European biogeographical regions and to evaluate the effect of planted flower strips on predation inside cultivated fields, respectively. This work will contribute to the improvement of environmental monitoring by considering an important ecological function.

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