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Ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) as indicators of change and pattern in the agroecosystem: Longer surveys improve understanding

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


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Investigations concerned with ground beetle (Carabidae) dynamics in the agroecosystem have generally been limited to relatively short time periods in one crop, commonly wheat, whilst other studies have concentrated on the influence of landscape structure and non-crop habitat on beetle activity, again usually in one crop. Results of a seven-year survey at Nafferton in northern England, with recording from all crops in an organic rotation and from three types of field boundary, indicated that the lack of field boundary management had the greatest influence on ground beetle activity/density in this particular agroecosystem. However, within the crop rotation, grass/clover limited activity/density compared with that in cereal, potato and bean crops and there were also differences within cereal crops. Data from a 17-year survey at Drayton Environmental Change Network (ECN) site in midland England indicate that previous understanding of ground beetle activity and distribution in intensively managed landscapes may have been limited by temporal constraints. At Drayton, changes in surrounding crop cover, with the introduction of willow coppice and reduced area of arable land and agricultural inputs, considerably influenced ground beetle activity/density and assemblages in non-crop habitat. Small, active species dominating the assemblage in the first few years of the Drayton survey were gradually replaced by larger, non-flying species, especially after all the willow coppice had been planted. In both surveys, activity/density of ground beetles was related to disturbance, affecting vegetation cover and structure, but at the field scale at Nafferton and at the farm scale at Drayton. Longer surveys in a variety of landscapes such as those by the United Kingdom Environmental Change Network are likely to improve understanding of activity, diversity and distribution of invertebrates, which are fundamental requirements if predators such as ground beetles are required for ecosystem service provision. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

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

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecological Indicators

Year: 2016

Volume: 68

Pages: 82-88

Print publication date: 01/09/2016

Online publication date: 03/12/2015

Acceptance date: 05/11/2015

ISSN (print): 1470-160X

ISSN (electronic): 1872-7034

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.11.009


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Funder referenceFunder name
UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
CT-2003-506358European Union Integrated Project QualityLowInputFood (EU FP6 Contract)