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Using Malaise traps to assess aculeate Hymenoptera associated with farmland linear habitats across a range of farming intensities

Insect Conservation and Diversity

Abstract

The intensification of farming practices, along with the loss and fragmentation of semi-natural habitats within agricultural areas, has contributed significantly to insect decline worldwide including flower-visiting aculeate Hymenoptera. In this study aculeate Hymenoptera were collected using bi-directional Malaise traps placed along farmland linear habitats across a range of farming intensities. The aim was to further our understanding of the value of farmland linear habitats to this insect group and in particular the Vespinae, an understudied subfamily. Overall, significantly greater aculeate Hymenoptera species richness was found on extensive than on intermediate and intensive farms. Significantly more species and specimens were collected on the side of the traps adjacent to the linear habitats compared to the side which opened onto the fields. Aculeate Hymenoptera species richness was also significantly greater in dense hedgerows than in open hedgerows. Furthermore, two out of six Vespinae species, Vespula rufa and Vespula vulgaris, had significantly more individuals on extensive than intensive farms. This study highlights that low-intensity farming practices and farmland linear habitats, especially dense hedgerows, may enhance aculeate Hymenoptera occurrence in agricultural areas. It also demonstrates that Malaise traps set up along linear habitats across a range of farming intensities can make a significant contribution to knowledge regarding the biodiversity value of such areas. Given that selected Vespinae species follow similar trends to aculeate Hymenoptera, the possibility of using them as simple biodiversity indicators is worthy of further exploration.

Author(s): Volpato, A; Ahmed, KSD; Williams, CD; Day, MF; O'Hanlon, A; Ruas, S; Rotches-Ribalta, R; Mulkeen, C; Huallachain, DO; Gormally, MJ

Journal: Insect Conservation and Diversity

Year: 2020

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