Submitted to: NCB-ESA North Central Branch Entomological Society of America
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/23/2005
Publication Date: 3/23/2005
Citation: O'Neal, M.E., Singer, J.W., Schmidt, N., Prasifka, J.R., Hellmich II, R.L. 2005. Assessing ground beetle contribution to ecosystem services: does it matter if there are more ground beetles?. [abstract]. NCB-ESA North Central Branch Entomological Society of America. Paper No. 102.
Technical Abstract: Diversification of the agroecosystem can enhance ecosystem services that beneficial insects provide. Habitat management within a farming system can lead to increased biological control of insect pests. The ground predator assemblage comprised of ground beetles (Coloptera: Carabidae) are not only a source of arthropod pest predation but several species also feed on weed seeds, providing a significant source of weed seed mortality. However, this community is susceptible to disturbances within the agroecosystem reducing both abundance and diversity. To what extent activities like invertebrate predation or weed seed predation are ultimately affected requires quantification, especially if a monetary value is estimated for the ecosystem services provided by ground beetles. Such estimates will be important if the costs and benefits of a transition toward more ecologically-based practices are compared. For example, adoption of cover crops can ameliorate the impact of some disturbances to the agroecosystem (tillage, harvest, etc.), thus maintaining ground beetle activity/density. To what extent the cost of adding a cover crop exceeds the actual benefits received from this improvement is not yet clear. We highlight recent studies in two contrasting production systems (a perennial fruit crop and annual field crop) in which cover crops were added. We discuss how the enhancement of ground beetles was measured and the extent to which they improved ecosystem services within these differing agroecosystems.