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Keywords:

  • ecosystem services;
  • Extenday®;
  • rank-abundance plots;
  • refuge;
  • species richness

Abstract

Reflective groundcovers are management tools used in temperate regions where light can be a limiting factor to crop productivity. Although their effects on crops have been extensively studied, little is known about their ecological impacts on ground-dwelling organisms. Theoretically, reflective groundcovers add structural complexity to the system and thus have the potential to create refuges for ground-dwelling invertebrates. At the same time, groundcovers can create abiotic conditions underneath them that could potentially cause declines in the abundance and richness of ground-dwelling invertebrates. During the summers of 2006 and 2007, white, woven, reflective polymer groundcovers were placed in two red raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) cropping systems (organic and conventional) in south-eastern New Brunswick to assess their effects on ground beetle richness, activity density and overall assemblage structure. A total of 8723 ground beetles belonging to 23 species were collected using pitfall traps. In contrast with the combined effects of cropping systems and sampling years, the use of a groundcover accounted for a small proportion of the variance in trap catches and caused little change in ground beetle richness, activity density and overall assemblage structure. Based on these results, we suggest that reflective groundcovers constitute promising management tools to increase light environment quality in row crops without being detrimental to ground beetle species that may contribute to pest suppression.