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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Establishing field margins to promote beetle conservation in arable farms

Published source details

Woodcock B.A., Westbury D.B., Potts S.G., Harris S.J. & Brown V.K. (2005) Establishing field margins to promote beetle conservation in arable farms. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 107, 255-266


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

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

A replicated study in June and September 2002 in Yorkshire, UK (Woodcock et al. 2005) found that beetle (Coleoptera) abundance and species richness on experimental plots was strongly influenced by the type of seed mixture. A mix containing only grass species (‘Countryside Stewardship Scheme mix’) had a higher abundance and species richness of beetles than a mix containing mainly flowering plants and no tussock grass species (‘fine grass and forbs mix’). A third mix containing wildflowers, fine and tussock grass species (‘tussock grass and forbs mix’) had similarly high beetle numbers and richness to the grass-only Countryside Stewardship Scheme mix. Beetle diversity (Shannon-Weiner index) did not differ between the different seed mixes. The plant communities in the grass-only and tussock grass and forbs mixes were more similar to each other than to the fine grass and forbs mix. Each of the seed mixtures was randomly sown on three of nine experimental plots in each of five blocks on one farm in autumn 2001. Plots measured 25 x 5 m. Seed mixes contained 3-7 grass and 0-19 forb species. The strips were cut once in July with cuttings left in place. Plant diversity and cover and vegetation structure were surveyed in June and September 2002 using 0.5 x 0.5 m quadrats and a ‘drop disk’. Beetles were sampled using a Vortis© (Burkland Ltd., UK) suction sampler. Five samples (15 suctions for 10 seconds) were taken in each plot (total area sampled 1.32 m2) on each visit. This study was extended in Woodcock et al. 2008.

Plant nectar flower mixture/wildflower strips Farmland Conservation

A replicated study in June and September 2002 in Yorkshire, UK (Woodcock et al. 2005) found that beetle (Coleoptera) abundance and species richness were strongly influenced by the type of seed mixture sown on experimental plots. A mix containing mainly flowering plants but no tussock grass species (‘Fine grass and forbs mix’) had fewer beetles and beetle species than a mix containing wildflowers, fine and tussock grass species (‘Tussock grass and forbs mix’) and a mix with tussock and fine grass species but no flowering plants (‘Countryside Stewardship mix’). Beetle diversity (Shannon-Weiner index) did not differ between the different seed mixes. Plant communities in the grass-only and tussock grass and wildflower mixes were more similar to each other than to the fine grass and wildflower mix. The three seed mixtures were each randomly sown on three of nine experimental plots in each of five blocks on one farm in autumn 2001. Plots measured 25 x 5 m. Seed mixes contained 3-7 grass and 0-19 wildflower species. The strips were cut once in July with cuttings left in situ. Plant diversity and cover and vegetation structure were surveyed in June and September 2002 using 0.5 x 0.5 m quadrats and a ‘drop disk’. Beetles were sampled using a Vortis (Burkland Ltd., UK) suction sampler. Five samples (15 suctions for 10 seconds) were taken in each plot (total area sampled 1.32 m2) on each visit. This study was extended in Woodcock et al. 2008.