• Agricultural intensification;
  • agro-ecology;
  • arthropods;
  • biodiversity;
  • feeding guilds;
  • intensification gradient;
  • land-use change;
  • meta-analysis.


Aim  To determine whether arthropod richness and abundance for combined taxa, feeding guilds and broad taxonomic groups respond in a globally consistent manner to a range of agricultural land-use and management intensification scenarios.

Location  Mixed land-use agricultural landscapes, globally.

Methods  We performed a series of meta-analyses using arthropod richness and abundance data derived from the published literature. Richness and abundance were compared among land uses that commonly occur in agricultural landscapes and that represent a gradient of increasing intensification. These included land-use comparisons, such as wooded native vegetation compared with improved pasture, and a management comparison, reduced-input cropping compared with conventional cropping. Data were analysed using three different meta-analytical techniques, including a simple vote counting method and a formal fixed-effects/random-effects meta-analysis.

Results  Arthropod richness was significantly higher in areas of less intensive land use. The decline in arthropod richness was greater between native vegetation and agricultural land uses than among different agricultural land uses. These patterns were evident for all taxa combined, predators and decomposers, but not herbivorous taxa. Overall, arthropod abundance was greater in native vegetation than in agricultural lands and under reduced-input cropping compared with conventional cropping. Again, this trend was largely mirrored by predators and decomposers, but not herbivores.

Main conclusions  The greater arthropod richness found in native vegetation relative to agricultural land types indicates that in production landscapes still containing considerable native vegetation, retention of that vegetation may well be the most effective method of conserving arthropod biodiversity. Conversely, in highly intensified agricultural landscapes with little remaining native vegetation, the employment of reduced-input crop management and the provision of relatively low-intensity agricultural land uses, such as pasture, may prove effective in maintaining arthropod diversity, and potentially in promoting functionally important groups such as predators and decomposers.