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The effects of soil tillage on beneficial invertebrates within the vineyard

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1 Tillage, commonly used in agroecosystems, can influence the abundance of invertebrates through factors such as habitat change and food availability.

2 The effects of tillage on the composition and abundance of invertebrates were examined in a vineyard near Mildura in Victoria, Australia, focusing particularly on groups that might act as natural enemies in vineyards. We used pitfall traps at ground level and sticky traps in the canopy.

3 The collections were first sorted to order. Beetles (Coleoptera) were sorted to family and ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to genus.

4 Ants were the only group to be affected by tillage when all months were considered. The same genera occurred in both treatments but the abundance of several genera was reduced by tillage. Families of several beetles, including predators, increased in tilled areas. Spider, millipede, centipede and earwig numbers were decreased by tillage. In the canopy, Trichogrammatidae and other parasitoids decreased in abundance after tillage.

5 These results indicate that tillage influences the composition of invertebrates and has the potential to negatively affect the abundance of beneficial groups.

Keywords: Ants; beetles; natural enemies; pest control

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, Zoology Department, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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