Library Dissertation Showcase

A comparison of ground invertebrate diversity in arable and non-arable habitats to inform a nature recovery plan

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

Agricultural expansion has drastically altered global land-use trends, the management associated with its expansion and intensification has caused many damaging environmental impacts. Invertebrates are a key group of organisms which hold importance in ecosystem services, regulation, and are a primary food source for many other animals. The impacts of agriculture have caused a decline in invertebrate diversity and health, yet invertebrates in agriculture remain under studied. This study explores the invertebrate communities across arable and non-arable habitats in a Lincolnshire farming estate, by capturing invertebrate populations across four habitats using pitfall traps along transects. Invertebrates were identified to key taxonomic groups and their abundance, richness, and function groups were compared between the habitats to determine any impacts agriculture has on invertebrate populations.

Arable habitats significantly differed to non-arable habitats (P < 0.05) in overall invertebrate abundance and richness. The abundance of the following key taxonomic groups was significantly affected by habitat: Gastropoda, Annelid, Aranea, Collembola, Carabidae, Other Coleoptera, Staphylinidae, Isopoda and Opiliones. Functional groups also significantly differed, the non-arable woodland habitat contained significantly more predators than all other habitats, and arable habitats dominated in detritivores and herbivores. Impacts to invertebrate functional group abundance across habitats can be linked to agricultural management, such as fertiliser use and habitat disturbance, which are further discussed in this study. Strong similarities were seen between both arable and non-arable woodland habitats when using non-metric multidimential scaling (NMDS) such as ordination analysis. This suggests a successional trend from arable to woodland invertebrate community. The research was conducted on a farmland estate planning a nature recovery project, meaning data collected will serve as baseline data for future comparison, and presents the unique opportunity to monitor invertebrate succession in the UK. Invertebrate community turnover also reflects potential habitat succession trends during nature recovery.

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