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The value of sown grass margins for enhancing soil macrofaunal biodiversity in arable systems

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

The presence of a grass strip was found to be beneficial to soil macrofauna, increasing the species densities and abundances of earthworms, woodlice and staphylinid beetles. The biodiversity of the three main feeding groups - predators, soil ingesters and litter consumers - was also significantly higher in the grass strips than in the field edges without strips, indicating that establishment of grassy margins in arable fields may enhance ecosystem services such as soil fertility and pest control. The grass strip habitat contained a large number of species of soil macrofauna, being second only to hedgerow habitat, with 10% of the total species list for the farm found only within the margins. Of the rare species recorded on the farm, five of the nine were from the grass strips, four of which were found only there. This study shows that establishing grassy strips in the margins of arable fields increases the biodiversity of the soil macrofauna, both within fields (alpha diversity) and across the farm (beta diversity). (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Smith, J; Potts, S; Eggleton, P

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2008

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