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The Effect of Cover Crops on the Biodiversity and Abundance of Ground-Dwelling Arthropods in a Mediterranean Pear Orchard

Department of Crop Protection, Biological Control and Ecosystem Services, Instituto Murciano de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario y Alimentario, C/Mayor s/n, La Alberca, 30150 Murcia, Spain
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Agronomy 2020, 10(4), 580; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10040580
Received: 9 April 2020 / Accepted: 16 April 2020 / Published: 18 April 2020
The intensification of agriculture has led to the reduction of the diversity of arthropods in agroecosystems, including that of ground-dwelling species. The aim of our work was to assess the effect of a sown cover crop on the diversity of ground-dwelling arthropods, including key predators for pest control in pear orchards. The trial was carried out in a pear orchard divided in three blocks; two treatments (cover-cropping and control) were implemented in each block. A seed mixture of 10 plant species was used in the plots with the sown cover. The densities of ground-dwelling arthropods were sampled using pitfall traps. The ground cover had a significant impact on the diversity and abundance of arthropods. The Shannon–Wiener diversity index was significantly higher for the cover than for the control plots. Several families of spiders (Linyphiidae, Lycosidae), beetles (Carabidae, Staphylinidae) and hymenopterans (Scelionidae) were significantly more abundant in the cover-sown plots. Ants and collembola had a significantly higher abundance in the control plots. Some of these groups arthropods (ants and spiders), are represented by species that may commute between ground and pear trees, having an impact on pest control. The use of cover crops is encouraged to enhance biodiversity in farmlands. View Full-Text
Keywords: ground-dwelling arthropods; pitfall traps; cover crops; ecosystem services; natural enemies; pear pests; biological control ground-dwelling arthropods; pitfall traps; cover crops; ecosystem services; natural enemies; pear pests; biological control
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MDPI and ACS Style

de Pedro, L.; Perera-Fernández, L.G.; López-Gallego, E.; Pérez-Marcos, M.; Sanchez, J.A. The Effect of Cover Crops on the Biodiversity and Abundance of Ground-Dwelling Arthropods in a Mediterranean Pear Orchard. Agronomy 2020, 10, 580.

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