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Document Type

Peer-Review Article

Abstract

Dairy cattle has become popular to dairy farmers in the Northeast looking for management schemes to cut production costs. Carabidae (ground beetles) and Staphylinidae (rove beetles) are indicators of habitat disturbances, such as drainage of wetlands, or grassland for grazing animals, and their monitoring could provide one measure of ecosystem sustainability if intensive management systems expand or intensify in the future. Our objective was assess the abundance and species richness of these two beetle families under intensive grazing throughout Pennsylvania, southern New York and Vermont. We collected 4365 ground beetles (83 species) and 4,027 rove beetles (79 species) by pitfall traps in three years in Pennsylvania. Nine ground beetle species, Amara aenea, Poecilus chalcites, Pterostichus melanarius, Bembidion quadrimaculatum oppositum, Amara familiaris, Poecilus lucublandus, Agonum muelleri, Bembidion obtusum and Bembidion mimus represented 80% of the Carabidae collected.

Five other species were new to Pennsylvania. Four rove beetle species, Philonthus cognatus, Meronera venustula, Amischa analis, and Philonthus various = (carbonarius), comprised 74% of the total Staphylinidae collected. Yearly distributions of the dominant species did not change significantly in the three years with A. aenea and P. cognatus being most abundant every year. A parasitic rove beetle, Aleochara tristis, was recovered for the first time in Pennsylvania and Vermont since its release in the 1960's to control face fly, Musca autumnalis.

Similar results were found in New York and Vermont. We collected 1,984 ground beetles (68 species). Pterostichus melanarius was most abundant. Pterostichus vernalis was detected for the first time in the United States (Vermont). It was previously reported from Montreal, Canada. We collected 843 rove beetles (45 species). Philonthus cognatus was the most abundant rove beetle. In addition, Tachinus corticinus, previously known only from Canada, was discovered for the first time in the United States in Vermont.

Pastures in Pennsylvania were diverse, containing 14 species of forage plants and 17 weed species. Botanical composition was similar in New York and Vermont. Sixteen species of grasses and legumes made up 90% of the plant composition and 36 species of weeds made up the remainder. This di­verse plant ecosystem may explain the richness of ground and rove beetles in northeastern U.S. pastures because the heterogeneity in the plant population provided additional resources which can support a rich assemblage of beetles. Monitoring richness and abundance of Carabidae and Staphylinidae over three years in Pennsylvania suggests intensive grazing systems are eco­logically sustainable.

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Entomology Commons

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