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Influence of hedgerow and grassy field borders on ground beetle (Coleoptera : Carabidae) activity in fields of corn

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment


Agricultural landscapes may be manipulated in ways that benefit predatory invertebrates by providing alternate food sources, overwintering sites, and refuge from farming activities. Ecological theory predicts that complex plant communities should support a richer community of natural enemies of pest insects than a simple plant community. A study was conducted in Iowa, USA to investigate the influence of the vegetative diversity of field boarders on the activity, species richness, and community similarities of predatory; beetles occurring in corn fields. Ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) populations were compared among corn fields bounded by either complex hedges or simple grass edges. Directional pitfall traps were used to investigate activity patterns of beetles between border types and their adjacent corn fields. Beetles were trapped during four seasonal periods, based on the growth stage of corn. During corn emergence (May-June) when fields are barren, carabids were more active and species richness was higher in the corn fields bordered by woody hedges. The carabid species Scarites quadriceps, Scarites subterraneus, and Harpalus pensylvanicus, were more dominant in hedge sites as compared to grass sites at this time. Following corn-canopy closure, carabids were now more active in fields bordered by grassy edges, but beetle activity also remained high in the fields adjacent to woody hedges. Further analysis of the carabid communities by Bray-Curtis Similarity Index showed no difference among field edge types at any time of the season. Results indicate that both complex and simple field border habitats support abundant and diverse populations of carabids during most of the growing season. However, during the early growing season hedges appear to be more important than grass edges in supplying carabid beetles to corn fields. Woody hedges may serve as very important overwintering sites and as an early season refuge for predatory beetles in corn. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. Ail rights reserved.

Author(s): Varchola, JM; Dunn, JP

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2001


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