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The importance of sward architectural complexity in structuring predatory and phytophagous invertebrate assemblages

Woodcock, B. A., Potts, S. G., Westbury, D. B., Ramsay, A. J., Lambert, M., Harris, S. J. and Brown, V. K. (2007) The importance of sward architectural complexity in structuring predatory and phytophagous invertebrate assemblages. Ecological Entomology, 32 (3). pp. 302-311. ISSN 0307-6946

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2007.00869.x

Abstract/Summary

1. Although the importance of plant community assemblages in structuring invertebrate assemblages is well known, the role that architectural complexity plays is less well understood. In particular, direct empirical data for a range of invertebrate taxa showing how functional groups respond to plant architecture is largely absent from the literature. 2. The significance of sward architectural complexity in determining the species richness of predatory and phytophagous functional groups of spiders, beetles, and true bugs, sampled from 135 field margin plots over 2 years was tested. The present study compares the relative importance of sward architectural complexity to that of plant community assemblage. 3. Sward architectural complexity was found to be a determinant of species richness for all phytophagous and predatory functional groups. When individual species responses were investigated, 62.5% of the spider and beetle species, and 50.0% of the true bugs responded to sward architectural complexity. 4. Interactions between sward architectural complexity and plant community assemblage indicate that the number of invertebrate species supported by the plant community alone could be increased by modification of sward architecture. Management practices could therefore play a key role in diversifying the architectural structure of existing floral assemblages for the benefit of invertebrate assemblages. 5. The contrasting effects of sward architecture on invertebrate functional groups characterised by either direct (phytophagous species) or indirect (predatory species) dependence on plant communities is discussed. It is suggested that for phytophagous taxa, plant community assemblage alone is likely to be insufficient to ensure successful species colonisation or persistence without appropriate development of sward architecture.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:9401
Uncontrolled Keywords:araneae, Coleoptera, Heteroptera, plant community assemblage, species, richness, GRAZING MANAGEMENT, PLANT ARCHITECTURE, SUCCESSIONAL COMMUNITIES, GRASSLANDS, COLEOPTERA, DIVERSITY, INSECTS, BEETLE, CONSERVATION, CARABIDAE
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell

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