Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: 'Beetle banks' as refuges for beneficial arthropods in farmland: long-term changes in predator communities and habitat

Published source details

MacLeod A., Wratten S.D., Sotherton N.W. & Thomas M.B. (2004) 'Beetle banks' as refuges for beneficial arthropods in farmland: long-term changes in predator communities and habitat. Agricultural and Forest Entomology, 6, 147-154


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Create beetle banks Natural Pest Control

A randomised, replicated study of a beetle bank over seven winters from early 1987 to early 1994 on a mixed arable estate in Hampshire, UK (MacLeod et al. 2004) found that ground beetle (Carabidae) and rove beetle (Staphylinidae) densities were often highest in blocks sown with cock’s-foot Dactylis glomerata or Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus (0.6-110.4 ground beetles/m², 1.2-125.4 rove beetles), although numbers were not always significantly higher than in creeping bent Agrostis stolonifera (3.1-15.4 ground beetles, 0.3-66.7 rove beetles) or perennial ryegrass Lolium perenne (2.1-11.5 ground beetles, 2.1-78.8 rove beetles). Densities of money spiders (Linyphiidae) and wolf spiders (Lycosidae) were also higher in cock’s-foot and Yorkshire fog, although not always significantly. Ground beetle species composition changed from species typical of open fields to species of field boundaries over the study period. Field boundaries were sampled in the last three winters and had lower densities of predatory invertebrates than the beetle bank, but this was not tested statistically. One 290 m-long beetle bank was divided into six blocks into which eight sowing treatments/block were applied (this study examined only four single-species grass treatments). Predator communities were sampled through ground zone searching and destructive sampling November-February. This study was part of the same experimental set-up as Thomas 1991, Thomas et al. 1991, Thomas et al. 1992 and MacLeod 1994.

Create beetle banks Farmland Conservation

A randomized, replicated study over seven winters from 1987-1988 to 1993-1994 within one beetle bank on a mixed arable estate in Hampshire, UK (MacLeod et al. 2004), (an extension of (Thomas 1991)) found that ground beetle (Carabidae) and rove beetle (Staphylinidae) densities were in general highest in cock’s-foot Dactylis glomerata and Yorkshire fog Holcus lanatus respectively, although this was not always significantly higher in comparison with creeping bent Agrostis stolonifera or perennial rye grass Lolium perenne. Densities of money spiders (Linyphiidae) and wolf spiders (Lycosidae) were also higher, although not always significantly, in these two tussock-forming grasses. The ground beetle species composition changed from dominance by open field species to boundary species over the course of the study. In the last three winters, when sampled, field boundaries had lower densities of predatory invertebrates than the beetle bank, but this was not statistically tested. Percentage cover of  the grass species originally sown in plots remained high for all species, except perennial rye grass, plots of which were invaded by cock’s-foot by the sixth winter and excluded from sampling in the last two winters because perennial rye grass had become so rare. One beetle bank was created through two-directional ploughing and divided into six blocks in which eight treatments were sown (only the four single grass species treatments included in this study) in randomized order. Predator communities were sampled through ground-zone searching and destructive sampling November-February. Vegetation composition was examined in quadrats in October 1992. This study was part of the same experimental set-up as (Thomas 1991, Thomas et al. 1991, Thomas et al. 1992, MacLeod 1994).