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Distribution and abundance of aphidophagous hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) in wildflower patches and field margin habitats

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1 The spatial and temporal variations in aphidophagous syrphid abundance were recorded over two seasons in wildflower resource patches sown in a winter barley crop and associated field margins. Standard census techniques and sticky board trapping were used to assess numbers of syrphids, whilst weekly flower head counts were used to quantify the floral resources available in each of the patches.

2 The field margin supported a greater diversity and density of syrphids than the within-crop wildflower patches, despite having a relatively lower flower head density. Presumably this was in response to other resources that field margins offer, namely additional aphid resources, shelter from predation, lekking sites and suitable flight-paths.

3 The commonest species of syrphid, Episyrphus balteatus, demonstrated a very positive habitat association with the field margin and was rarely reported in the field patches. Therefore, it may be an unsuitable candidate for the biological control of aphids via augmentation of numbers using non-host resources.

4 Patch size and shape had little effect on the spatial distributions of syrphids, probably because of the adult syrphids' high mobility.

5 Of greater influence was the number of flowers contained in each habitat patch. Typically, patches with higher numbers of flowers had significantly greater aggregations of hoverflies. Habitat manipulation by the provision of flowers in patches seems to increase the local density of hoverflies. Further work is necessary to establish the importance of flower density in enhancing the control of pest populations.
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Keywords: Aphidophagous syrphids; Episyrphus balteatus; Sphaerophoria spp; foraging; patch; pest manage- ment; predation; wildflower

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Behavioural and Environmental Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, The Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, U.K. 2: Department of Entomology and Nematology, IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden, U.K. and

Publication date: 2001-02-01

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