Effects of experimentally planting non-crop flowers into cabbage fields on the abundance and diversity of predators
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Flowery field margins and intersowing of crops with flowers are used as management practices to promote arthropod biodiversity as well as biocontrol agents. Positive effects of enhancement (in abundance and species richness) of hymenopteran parasitoids on control of Lepidoptera pests have previously been demonstrated. However, effects on predatory arthropods, which may also serve as pest control agents, remain unclear. In an experimental study in cabbage fields we tested how sown flower strips on field margins and intersowing with cornflower affected the species richness, abundance and community composition of ground beetles and spiders. Furthermore, we investigated whether effects of flower margins are dependent on the distance from the field margins. We found that field margins generally harboured higher species richness, whereas effects on abundance were weaker. Intersown cornflower had positive effects on spider and ground beetle abundance, but affected species richness only weakly. Our results do not provide evidence for effects of distance from the flowery field margins on predator richness or abundance. Species composition was strongly affected by the habitat management actions. We conclude that habitat management practices like flower strips on field margins and intersowing with flowers, which are primarily added to attract and enhance parasitoids for pest control, also benefit biodiversity conservation in spiders and ground beetles. They also positively affect the abundance of these primarily predatory taxa, which adds to the biocontrol potential of non-crop flowering plants.