In order to improve biological control of agricultural pests, it is fundamental to understand which factors influence the composition of natural enemies in agricultural landscapes. In this study, we aimed to understand how agricultural land use affects a number of different traits in ground beetle communities to better predict potential consequences of land-use change for ecosystem functioning. We studied ground beetles in fields with different agricultural land use ranging from frequently managed sugar beet fields, winter wheat fields to less intensively managed grasslands. The ground beetles were collected in emergence tents that catch individuals overwintering locally in different life stages and with pitfall traps that catch individuals that could have a local origin or may have dispersed into the field. Community weighted mean values for ground beetle traits such as body size, flight ability and feeding preference were estimated for each land-use type and sampling method. In fields with high land-use intensity the average body length of emerging ground beetle communities was lower than in the grasslands while the average body length of actively moving communities did not differ between the land-use types. The proportion of ground beetles with good flight ability or a carnivorous diet was higher in the crop fields as compared to the grasslands. Our study highlights that increasing management intensity reduces the average body size of emerging ground beetles and the proportion of mixed feeders. Our results also suggest that the dispersal ability of ground beetles enables them to compensate for local management intensities.
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use