Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (4): 609-614, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.079

Landscape structure affects activity density, body size and fecundity of Pardosa wolf spiders (Araneae: Lycosidae) in winter oilseed rape

Thomas DRAPELA1,3, Thomas FRANK1, Xaver HEER2, Dietmar MOSER1,4, Johann G. ZALLER*,1
1 Institute of Zoology, Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Gregor Mendel Straße 33, A-1180 Vienna, Austria
2 Eichenweg 6, CH-5036 Oberentfelden, Switzerland
3 Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL Austria), A-1070 Vienna, Austria
4 Vienna Institute for Nature Conservation and Analyses (VINCA), A-1090 Vienna, Austria

In large parts of Europe Pardosa spp. (Lycosidae) are among the most abundant wolf spiders in arable fields and potentially important natural control agents of pests. We studied the influence of landscape factors on activity density, adult body size and fecundity of P. agrestis in 29 winter oilseed rape fields (Brassica napus L.) in Eastern Austria using pitfall traps. Landscape data were obtained for eight circular landscape sections around each field (radii 250-2000 m). Multivariate regression models were used to analyze the data. Activity density was highest when the length of strips of grassy road-sides in the surroundings was highest and distance to the next grassy fallow lowest. Body size was negatively related to activity density and to the length of road-side strips and positively to woody areas in the vicinity of the fields. Clutch size was unrelated to any of the landscape factors tested but was positively correlated with female body size. Woody areas and grassy fallow in the close vicinity of the fields had a positive influence on number of offspring per female and total number of offspring. These results indicate that various non-crop components in the landscape surrounding oilseed rape fields can specifically influence the activity density and fitness-related traits of P. agrestis in crops. The possible role of Pardosa spp. in natural pest control is discussed.

Keywords: Agroecology, Araneae, Lycosidae, Pardosa agrestis, generalist predator, Brassica napus, oilseed rape, landscape, multiple spatial scales

Received: March 4, 2011; Accepted: April 10, 2011; Published: October 3, 2011

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