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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The value of planted grass field margins as a habitat for sawflies and other chick-food insects

Published source details

Barker A.M. & Reynolds C.J.M. (1999) The value of planted grass field margins as a habitat for sawflies and other chick-food insects. Aspects of Applied Biology, 54, 109-116


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Create beetle banks Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in the summers of 1997-1998 in three regions (southern England, East Anglia and the Midlands) across the UK (Barker & Reynolds 1999) found no difference in the average catch of sawfly (Hymenoptera: Symphyta) larvae between beetle banks and grass strips planted along existing field margins. The total percentage cover of grass in planted grass strips affected the abundance of sawfly larvae positively. There were non-significant trends for sawfly larvae numbers to increase with strip age and to decrease with the amount of cock’s-foot Dactylis glomerata. Numbers of gamebird chick-food insects increased with strip age and area, but there was also a significant difference between farms. There was a non-significant trend for chick-food insect numbers to increase with the proportion of red fescue Festuca rubra. Cock’s-foot, red fescue and perennial rye grass Lolium perenne were the predominant grasses in most strips, being most common in 35, 25 and 17 strips respectively. A total of 116 grass strips (83 along pre-existing field margins and 33 beetle banks) on 32 farms were surveyed. For the overall analysis, the 11 strips on three of the farms were excluded. Grass strips had been established 0.5-12 years previously, both along pre-existing field margins and across cropped fields (beetle banks). Invertebrates were sampled by sweep-netting at the base of the vegetation in mid-June to mid-July. Percentage cover of all plant species and vegetation height was measured in 0.25m2 quadrats. Apart from where stated, this study does not distinguish between the effects of creating beetle banks and planting grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields.

 

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in the summers of 1997-1998 in three regions across the UK (Barker & Reynolds 1999) found that the total percentage of grass cover in planted grass strips affected the abundance of sawfly (Symphyta) larvae positively. Sawfly larvae numbers were found to increase with strip age and to decrease with the amount of cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata (both trends non-significant). There was no difference in the average catch of sawfly larvae between beetle banks and strips planted along existing field margins. Numbers of insects used by gamebirds as chick food increased with strip age and area, but there was also a significant difference between farms. There was a non-significant trend for chick-food insect numbers to increase with the proportion of red fescue Festuca rubra. Cocksfoot, red fescue and perennial rye grass Lolium perenne were the predominant grasses in most strips, being most common in 35, 25 and 17 strips respectively. A total of 116 strips were sampled on 32 farms. Grass strips had been established 0.5-12 years previously, both along pre-existing field margins and across cropped fields (beetle banks). Invertebrates were sampled by sweep-netting at the base of the vegetation in mid-June to mid-July. Percentage cover of all plant species and vegetation height was measured in 0.25 m2 quadrats.