Implications for conservation biocontrol of spatio-temporal relationships between carabid beetles and coleopterous pests in winter oilseed rape
1: The spatio-temporal distributions of predatory carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and their potential prey, the larvae of three coleopterous pests, Meligethes aeneus (Fabricius) and Ceutorhynchus spp. [Ceutorhynchus pallidactylus (Marsham), the cabbage stem weevil, and Ceutorhynchus assimilis (Paykull), the cabbage seed weevil], were studied within a crop of winter oilseed rape. The distributions of Collembola were recorded as potential alternative prey. Insect distributions were analysed and compared using Spatial Analysis by Distance Indices. 2: Mature larvae of the pests dropped from the crop canopy to the soil for pupation in temporal succession from May to early July. Their distributions within the crop were irregular and differed with species. 3: Adults of seven species or genera of carabid were abundant and active within the crop during May and June: Nebria brevicollis (Fabricius), Anchomenus dorsalis (Pontoppidan), Loricera pilicornis (Fabricius), Amara similata (Gyllenhal), Asaphidion spp., Pterostichus madidus (Fabricius) and Pterostichus melanarius (Illiger). 4: During May, N. brevicollis was spatially associated with peak numbers of M. aeneus larvae and with Collembola. Anchomenus dorsalis was spatially associated with Ceutorhynchus spp. larvae during two peaks in the abundance of the latter in early and late June. Nebria brevicollis and A. dorsalis coincided in both time and space with larvae of the three coleopterous pests when they were most vulnerable to predation by epigeal predators and are therefore good candidates for conservation biocontrol. 5: The importance of carabid beeetles in the natural enemy complex in winter oilseed rape and their potential for biocontrol of spring and summer pests are discussed in relation to husbandry practices for the crop and its adjacent areas which could be manipulated to promote carabid survival for integrated pest management.