• α Diversity index;
  • carabids;
  • Coleoptera;
  • farming systems;
  • staphylinids


1 Studies of the epigeal coleopteran fauna on five pairs of organic and conventional farms were carried out between May and July 1994 in southern England using pitfall trapping. A total of 27 749 individuals and 140 species were identified. Overall, abundance of Coleoptera was greatest on organically managed farms.

2 Ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and staphylinid beetles (Col. Staphylinidae) formed 79.7% and 16.7%, respectively, of the total catch. Pterostichus melanarius was the dominant carabid among the 45 species captured and significantly higher numbers were found in organic farms. Tachinus signatus was the most common of 44 staphylinid species, and was significantly more abundant on conventional farms.

3 For carabids, the log-series α diversity index was higher on conventional farms but was not statistically different from that calculated for organic farms. The α index was identical for staphylinid species from organic and conventional farms. Diversity was significantly higher from conventional farms when data were combined for all of the recorded coleopteran species.

4 From this study, it appears that the main effect of farming practice is to influence the overall abundance and dominance of particular species, and the lower diversity of organic farms is a consequence of the large increase in dominance of a single species, namely P. melanarius.