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Title: Local and landscape effects of field margins on aerially dispersing beneficial insects and spiders
Author: Oaten, Heather
ISNI:       0000 0004 2704 4521
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2011
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Field margins were implemented in UK agri-environment schemes with the aim to increase farmland biodiversity. Recently aerially dispersing aphid enemies have been shown to provide the majority of aphid control in winter wheat fields but there is a lack of research conducted on the aerial predator guild. This thesis examines the effect field margins have on aphid predators at the single field scale, the landscape scale and, using results from a marking study, examines the direct use of a pollen and nectar rich field margin by Episyrphus balteatus. At the single field scale, field margins had a positive effect of the numbers of Cantharidae, Empididae, Linyphiidae and Tachyporus spp. in fields with sown margins compared to those without during wheat growth and total aphid predator numbers were significantly higher in fields with margin surrounds in early May but not later in the year. At the landscape scale, results from twelve winter wheat fields with varying densities of surrounding field margins showed predatory Tachyporus spp. to exhibit a positive correlation at scales above 500m radius and Cantharidae to exhibit a negative correlation at local scales. Implications for field margins exerting both positive and negative influences on the presence of aerially dispersing aphid predators in winter wheat fields are discussed. A marking study using rubidium chloride proved direct utilisation of a pollen and nectar rich field margin by the Syrphid Episyrphus balteatus, and the traps used in this study also highlighted the association in distributions between Empididae and cereal aphids. Overall it was concluded that the presence of field margins does have an effect on the spatial and temporal distributions of some aerially dispersing aphid predators, but the response of each predator group varies depending on numerous interlinking components of their life history and directions for future research are discussed.
Supervisor: Holland, John ; Smith, Barbara ; Leather, Simon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral