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Invertebrate Populations In Miscanthus (Miscanthus×giganteus) And Reed Canary-grass (Phalaris Arundinacea) Fields

T. Semere, F. Slater
Published 2007 · Biology

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Abstract Monitoring of invertebrates at four field sites in Herefordshire, England, growing miscanthus and reed canary-grass was carried out in 2002, 2003 and 2004 to investigate the ecological impact of these crops on ground beetles, butterflies and arboreal invertebrates. Ground beetles were sampled by pitfall trapping; and arboreal invertebrates by sweep netting and stem beating. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology's Butterflies Monitoring Scheme methodology was used to record butterflies. The effects of the biomass crops on invertebrates were indirect, through the use of weeds as food resources and habitat. The greater diversity of weed flora within miscanthus fields than within reed canary-grass fields had a greater positive effect on invertebrates. Ground beetles, butterflies and arboreal invertebrates were more abundant and diverse in the most floristically diverse miscanthus fields. The difference in crop architecture and development between miscanthus and reed canary-grass was reflected in their differences in crop height and ground cover early on in the season. However, most of the difference in arthropod abundance between the two crops was attributed to the difference in the agronomic practice of growing the crops such as plant density, and the effect of this on weed growth. Since perennial rhizomatous grasses require a single initial planting and related tillage, and also no major chemical inputs; and because the crops are harvested in the spring and the land is not disturbed by cultivation every year, the fields were used as over-wintering sites for invertebrates suggesting immediate benefits to biodiversity.
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