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FIELD MARGINS – CAN THEY ENHANCE NATURAL ENEMY POPULATION-DENSITIES AND GENERAL ARTHROPOD DIVERSITY ON FARMLAND

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

The interactions of predatory arthropods between natural habitats and arable land were explored. Three questions were asked: (1) Does habitat quality in field margins determine the density of natural enemies overwintering in field margins? (2) Are good sites for natural enemies also habitats which support greater general arthropod diversity? (3) Does the density of predators overwintering in field margins determine their distribution and abundance in adjacent cereal fields in spring? The value of field margins to agriculture was assessed as the density of arthropods overwintering in these habitats. The arthropod groups used for the assessment were known aphid predators which moved out into cereal crops in the spring. This assessment was compared with general arthropod diversity at each site to test whether field margins supporting high densities of predators were also of value to nature conservation in supporting greater arthropod biodiversity. In spring, the spatial dynamics of predatory arthropod species were investigated in cereal crops adjacent to field-margin overwintering sites. The influence of field-margin habitats on natural enemy populations within adjacent crops was evaluated. The enhancement of natural enemies and general arthropod conservation are discussed as components of overall biological diversity at the farm scale.

Author(s): DENNIS, P; FRY, GLA

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 1992

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