Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Cory Straub


Presented during the 25th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 21, 2023 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Predatory ground beetles in agricultural fields provide pest control that is a valuable ecosystem service. The resilience of this ecosystem service or the ability of ground beetle communities to resist and/or recover from ecological disturbances, is hypothesized to increase with the biodiversity of the community. Previous studies have shown that predator biodiversity in cereal fields increases with the quantity of natural, non-crop habitats in the surrounding area (called landscape ‘complexity’). We studied six pairs of cereal fields in central Sweden. Paired fields were adjacent to one another and shared the same landscape with low, intermediate, or high complexity. Within pairs, the fields differed in agriculture management, with one field being tilled before planting and the other not tilled. Tillage is a source of disturbance that may reduce ground beetle populations and weaken biological pest control. Pit fall traps and time-sorting insect traps were deployed in each field. Field-captured beetles were regurgitated in the lab for DNA analysis of gut contents to provide a direct measure of pest control. Our project tested the hypothesis that increasing landscape complexity promotes ground beetle biodiversity (i.e., beetle species richness and abundance), and that tillage reduces ground beetle biodiversity. Notably, this study is being conducted in Sweden, Germany, Austria, and Italy, over several years. Upon completion, this large-scale project will be able to evaluate how changes in landscape complexity affect the resilience of biological pest control to disturbance from tillage and climate events, e.g., heat waves and drought. This research will help agricultural communities across Europe to better understand and prepare for the consequences of climate change.


Available to Ursinus community only.