, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 109-129

The Effects of Agricultural Practices on Carabidae in Temperate Agroecosystems

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

Ground beetles (Coleoptera, Carabidae) occur in all temperate agroecosystems, and have been implicated as predators of many pests, including aphids, lepidopterous larvae, and slugs. Most are polyphagous, and some are primarily spermophagous. The species assemblage present in any particular crop is determined by multiple factors, but usually comprises a limited number of abundantly active species, which may be common to many crop types. Abiotic soil factors, especially soil type and moisture status are important in determining the species present. Crop type affects the carabid assemblage indirectly through cultivation practices and microclimatic changes. Any soil cultivation affects the carabid assemblage, but studies comparing ploughing with reduced tillage have shown varying results, according to local conditions. Pesticides, especially insecticides have a localised and short-term effect, as many carabids rapidly re-invade sprayed crops. The long-term effect of pesticide usage at a landscape scale is, however, more difficult to predict, and may have contributed to the observed decline in carabid diversity in the wider countryside. Whilst fertiliser application is generally beneficial to carabids, comparisons of conventional and organic farming systems suggest that localised short-term variations in species’ abundances are more important than the overall farming system used. Non-crop habitats are very important to Carabidae, as many use adjacent hedges and field margins for shelter, breeding or dispersal. But other features such as roads may act as barriers to dispersal. It is concluded that further measures need to be taken if Carabidae are to realise their potential in integrated pest management systems.