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Arthropods within the woody element of hedgerows and their distribution pattern

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1 The diversity and abundance of arthropods within hedgerows was investigated using insecticide fogging. In total, 13 390 arthropods were collected from 181 m3 of hedge (2% of the total volume). The taxonomic diversity of the total sample included 51 families in 13 orders, all within the phylum Arthropoda. Five orders accounted for 90% of all arthropods: Araneae, Coleoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera and Hymenoptera. The predators were the dominant functional group accounting for 40% of the total sample.

2 The linear distribution of hedgerow arthropod assemblages was investigated by sampling arthropods in 13 hedges at seven equidistant points along each hedge. Abundance of most arthropod taxa and the four functional groups (predators, parasitoids, herbivores and scavengers) consistently showed a clumped distribution along hedges, with high numbers at both ends and in the middle section. Hedge ends were defined either as a node, where the hedge intersected with another hedge, or as a gateway prior to an adjacent landscape feature such as a wood. Aggregation of arthropods at the nodes may reflect preferable microclimatic conditions at hedgerow junctions, whereas aggregation at a gap suggests the gap acted as a barrier to movement. The aggregation at the centre remains unexplained but may be a manifestation of the movement of individual arthropods along the hedgerow.

3 The great abundance and diversity of arthropods found in the present study emphasizes the status of hedges as one of the most important noncrop habitats on farmland. The arthropods that they contain may act as food for other farmland species, aid pest control and contribute to crop pollination.
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Keywords: Agroecology; farmland; field margins; fogging; habitat barrier; habitat corridor; herbivores; parasitoids; predators; scavengers; spatial pattern

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Game Conservancy Trust, Fordingbridge, Hants, SP6 1EF, U.K.

Publication date: 01 August 2006

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