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Changes in the Carabid Fauna of a Previously Agricultural Field During the First Twelve Years of Impoverishing Treatments

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Several pastures and arable fields are situated around and within the heathland reserve of Kralo and Dwingelo in the Dutch province of Drenthe. These sites hinder a free exchange of animals between different parts of the reserve and have a fertilizing effect on the oligothrophic heathland. During the last 20 years several of these sites have been purchased in order to gradually restore the original conditions by the application of impoverishment techniques. In this paper the changes that have occurred during a 12 year period (1972 to 1984) in the Carabid fauna of a previously arable field that was gradually impoverished by annual mowing and removal of vegetation are reported. The changes in both species composition and population numbers were compared with the corresponding simultaneously occurring events in adjacent more natural areas. The changes observed in the previously arable field (hereafter referred to as the 'field') were mainly within those species favouring agricultural sites. Most of these show high powers of dispersal and disappeared or sharply decreased in numbers in the area which had been withdrawn from cultivation. These changes were reflected in the catches in the adjacent sites, except for the forest. No evident settlements of species characteristic for forest and heath were observed. The few forest species that were caught in significant numbers in the 'field' have large individuals which can travel considerable distances and are frequently active in open fields. Some species consisting of relative large sized individuals (8-12 mm) frequently caught in heath sites which are often dominated by grasses, rapidly increased in numbers in the 'field' and are proposed to prefer fields recently withdrawn from agriculture. These were formerly plentifull, when predatory agricultural practices were still generally applied. However, those species consisting of small sized individuals and frequently caught in heath sites with a dense vegetation of Calluna and Erica were only incidently caught in the 'field'. Apparently until 1984 the prevailing conditions in the 'field' were still unfavourable for this group of heath species, although they are common in the adjacent heath, implying that a long time is necessary to restore the original oligothrophic conditions.

Affiliations: 1: Biological station of The Agricultural University, Kampsweg 27 9418 PD Wijster, The Netherlands


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