Supporting non-target arthropods in agroecosystems: modelling effects of insecticides and landscape structure on carabids in agricultural landscapes

Elżbieta Ziółkowska*, Christopher John Topping, Agnieszka Bednarska, Ryszard Laskowski

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Intensification of agricultural practices is one of the most important drivers of the dramatic decline of arthropod species. We do not know, however, the relative contribution to decline of different anthropogenic stressors that are part of this process: whether the extensive use of pesticides, decreasing landscape heterogeneity, large-scale monocultures, and/or the lack of suitable habitats serving as refuges for arthropods plays the most important role. We used high-resolution dynamic landscape models and advanced spatially-explicit population modelling to estimate the relative importance of insecticide use and landscape structure for population dynamics of a widespread carabid beetle Bembidion lampros. The effects of in-crop mitigation measures through the application of insecticides with reduced lethality, and off-crop mitigation measures by increasing abundance of grassy field margins, were evaluated for the beetle along the gradient of landscape heterogeneity. Reducing the insecticide-driven lethality (90-10%) had larger positive impacts on beetle density and occupancy than increasing the abundance of field margins in a landscape. The effects of increasing field margins depended on their width and overall abundance in the landscape, but only field margins 4 m wide, applied to at least 40% of fields, resulted in an increase in beetle population density comparable to the scenario with the smallest reduction of insecticide-driven lethality we considered. Our findings suggest the importance of field margins rather as a supporting not stand-alone mitigation measure, as they generally improved effects of reduction of insecticide-driven lethality. Therefore, adding sufficiently broad off-field habitats should help to maintain viable beetle populations in agricultural landscapes even with moderate use of insecticides. We also showed that the effectiveness of applied mitigation measures strongly depends on landscape and farmland heterogeneity. Thus, to achieve the same management or mitigation target in different landscapes might require different strategies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number145746
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Number of pages16
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


    • Agent-based modeling
    • ALMaSS
    • Agricultural System Simulation
    • Carabidae
    • spatial modelling


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