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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Landscape simplification promotes weed seed predation by carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae)

Jonason D, Smith HG, Bengtsson J, Birkhofer K


Weeds constitute major constraints for farmers by reducing crop yield and quality. However, weeds are managed effectively using herbicides, but this may cause harmful effects on human health and the environment. In an experiment on weed seed predation, we tested the biological control potential of carabid beetles to combat weeds in the absence of herbicides. Seeds from three common weed species were placed in cereal fields on conventional and organic farms located along a landscape complexity gradient (area annual crops within 1 km) in two distinct regions in Sweden. Carabid beetles were sampled in the same fields using pitfall traps. Neither carabid species richness nor seed removal was related to organic farming. Seed removal was significantly related to carabid species richness and both carabid species richness and seed removal was higher in landscapes with large total area of annual crops, although the evenness of the carabid communities was lower. The carabid genera with strongest positive relationship to seed removal differed between regions (Trechus in Uppland and Pterostichus in Scania), as did the preference for the different weed seed species. This study concludes that carabid species richness contributes to weed seed predation and that large scale landscape context explains more variation in the carabids' responses than local farming practices.


Agri-environment schemes; Agricultural intensification; Biological control; Ecosystem services; Landscape complexity; Organic farming

Published in

Landscape Ecology
2013, Volume: 28, number: 3, pages: 487-494

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      Agricultural Science

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