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The impact of tillage and chemical management on beneficial arthropods in Mediterranean olive groves

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image of Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution

Woodlice (Isopoda: Oniscidae) are known to play important roles in soil profile development and nutrient cycling in agroecosystems. The aim of the present work was to understand the impact of different management regimes on woodlouse fauna in Mediterranean olive groves. The olive groves were located along the Kyrenia mountain range towards the north-west of Cyprus at two different elevations. We used pitfall trapping to compare the abundance of woodlice in groves that were (a) uncultivated at low altitude; (b) uncultivated at high altitude; (c) tilled at low altitude; (d) tilled and chemically managed at low altitude. A total of 1751 woodlice were collected and a significant effect of management regime on the abundance of woodlouse was observed. The low altitude uncultivated olive groves retained a higher number of individuals than the other three management regimes. Our results suggest that tillage alone did not impact severely on woodlouse abundance, but that tillage combined with pesticide and fertilizer application could lead to significant losses in woodlouse abundance in olive grove agroecosystems, with implications for the sustainability of soil quality and biodiversity.

Affiliations: 1: bCentre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall, UK ; 2: aDepartment of Landscape Architecture, Near East University, Nicosia, Cyprus


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