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Crop cover the principal influence on non-crop ground beetle (Coleoptera, Carabidae) activity and assemblages at the farm scale in a long-term assessment

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mick Eyre, Dr Roy Sanderson, Dr Nigel Critchley


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Ground beetle data were generated using pitfall traps in the 17-year period from 1993 to 2009 and used to investigate the effects of changes in surrounding crop cover on beetle activity and assemblages, together with the effects of weather variability. Beetles were recorded from non-crop field margins (overgrown hedges). Crop cover changes explained far more variation in the beetle assemblages recorded than did temperature and rainfall variation. A reduction in management intensity and disturbance in the crops surrounding the traps, especially the introduction and development of willow coppice, was concomitant with changes in individual species activity and assemblage composition of beetles trapped in non-crop habitat. There were no consistent patterns in either overall beetle activity or in the number of species recorded over the 17-year period, but there was a clear change from assemblages dominated by smaller species with higher dispersal capability to ones with larger beetles with less dispersal potential and a preference for less disturbed agroecosystems. The influence of surrounding crops on ground beetle activity in non-crop habitat has implications for ecosystem service provision by ground beetles as pest predators. These results are contrary to conventional assumptions and interpretations, which suggest activity of pest predators in crops is influenced primarily by adjacent non-crop habitat. The long-term nature of the assessment was important in elucidation of patterns and trends, and indicated that policies such as agri-environment schemes should take cropping patterns into account when promoting management options that are intended to enhance natural pest control.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Eyre MD, Sanderson RA, McMillan SD, Critchley CNR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Bulletin of Entomological Research

Year: 2016

Volume: 106

Issue: 2

Pages: 242-248

Print publication date: 01/04/2016

Online publication date: 20/01/2016

Acceptance date: 22/11/2015

ISSN (print): 0007-4853

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2670

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0007485315001054


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