Impact of oilseed rape (OSR) production on functional biodiversity of predators and decomposers - development of management strategies for conservation and improvement in Croatia, Germany and Serbia

Project ID: ERA 51
Funding including national funding and EC funding:
Total costs: 150,000 SEE-ERA.NET PLUS funding: 135,088
Project duration: 01.10.2010 / 30.09.2012

Germany is Europes largest producer of OSR (1.6 mio ha), but also in WBCs OSR is of increasing importance as 20% of the arable land is suitable for OSR. Problems of OSR with impacts on biodiversity are N-overfertilization, intensive tillage, use of pyrethroids and phosphoric acids due to pest resistance. Environmentally friendly production techniques are demanded. While most projects on agrobiodiversity focus on non-cultivated areas (field margins, hedges),this project targets on within-field biodiversity. Besides species richness it comprises functional aspects like pest biocontrol by predators (Carabidae,Staphylinidae,spiders), and turnover of plant residues by decomposers (earthworms). Biotic indicators and fitness parameters (e.g. body size/weight, ecological preferences) are used to assess the management systems. In WBCs research on OSR is still focused on general crop production and pest control. Nothing is known about within-field biodiversity of beneficial non-targets. In Croatia, Serbia and Germany in a 2-year field experiment the impact of 3 differently managed OSR fields (conventional, highly integrated, organic) on biodiversity and fitness of predators and decomposers will be investigated. The systems differ in tillage, fertilizer, pesticide input, weed control, cultivars, row space and application of trap crop strips and will be integrated into a crop rotation with wheat. The fields will be covered by a grid of sampling points using different methods to assess predators (pitfall traps, emergence traps), decomposers (soil samples) and pests (bud/pod/stem samples). Gut dissections of predators will inform about their importance as biocontrol agents. The results will show if there are country specific assemblages of key predators and decomposers, so that crop management should be adapted. The experiments will demonstrate possible ecological approaches in OSR. Thus, theyll give impulses towards research focuses on functional biodiversity especially in WBCs.

Partners involved:

Institute for Crop and Soil Science
116 Bundesallee
38116 Braunschweig, Germany
Dr. Wolfgang Buechs

Department of Plant Pests
33 Banatska
11080 Zemun, Serbia
Dr. Ivan Sivcev

Deaprtment of Agricultural Zoology
25 Svetosimunska cesta
10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Dr. Tanja Gotlin-Culjak