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Keywords:

  • Agri-environmental scheme;
  • Araneae;
  • biodiversity;
  • biomass;
  • Carabidae;
  • community composition;
  • ecological traits;
  • field margins;
  • Heteroptera;
  • organic farming

Abstract

  1. It is not known if grassy margins contribute to the conservation of biodiversity if situated along organically managed cereal fields as the contrast in environmental conditions between fields and margins may be too small in absence of pesticide applications.
  2. Communities of spiders, ground beetles, true bugs and aphids were sampled in 2 years along transects from the centre of organically managed cereal fields into adjacent grassy margins. Based on species richness, abundances, ecological and body size traits of species and taxonomic distinctness between species, communities were compared between organically managed cereal fields and their grassy margins.
  3. The species richness, abundance and variation in taxonomic distinctness of true bugs were significantly higher in grassy margins. For spiders and ground beetles, these metrics were either higher in cereal fields or did not differ significantly. At the species level, spiders living under stones or in soil crevices, as well as phytophagous ground beetles and true bugs that overwinter as eggs benefited from grassy margins. True bug communities in cereal fields were dominated by a few abundant species, whereas communities in margins were rather dominated by a few large species.
  4. Our comprehensive analyses highlight the importance of accounting for species identities and biology in biodiversity studies. The traits that characterised arthropod species that benefited from margins are not characteristic for pest species. Grassy margins along organic fields therefore represent an important agri-environmental scheme for the conservation of several arthropod taxa and margins should not be removed to increase the crop production area in organically managed cereal fields.