The Value of Parasitic Hymenoptera as Indicators of Biological Diversity

Final Report for the ERTDI-funded project: 2003-FS-CD-LS-14-M1

Summary: STRIVE Report 3 - Annette Anderson & Gordon Purvis

Published: 2008

ISBN: 1-84095-257-1

Pages: 72

Filesize: 807 KB

Format: pdf


This study set out to test the hypothesis that parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera: Parasitica) are suitable bioindicators for, and can provide a useful means to assess, the wider biodiversity of arthropod populations in agro-ecosystems. There is a wide range of theoretical arguments to support such a claim, including the high trophic position of these taxa within the arthropod communities in which they occur, and the unique nature of their biological relationships with the vast majority of terrestrial insect groups.

Currently, grassland can be managed according to Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) specifications by reducing only the intensity of nitrogen use and stocking rates. However, if the widely used method of intensive grass utilisation by short-term rotational grazing and conservation for silage remains unchanged, our data suggest that the net benefit for biodiversity is likely to be small. More detailed studies of alternative grazing and grass utilisation systems are required to maximise the potential biodiversity benefits of the REPS policy.

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