The conservation of insects on arable farmland.

Author Dover, J.W.
Citation Dover, J.W. (1991). The conservation of insects on arable farmland. In: Collins, N.W. & Thomas, J. (eds) The Conservation of Insects and Their Habitats: 293-317. Royal Entomological Society of London, Symposium 15. Academic Press, London.


The conservation of insects on farmland is a relatively new subject. Concern for the effects of intensive agriculture on farmland wildlife has been recently, and effectively, coupled with concern at the scale of agricultural overproduction to produce a powerful argument in favour of the deintensification of farming (Section III.G). However, the financial resources allotted to nature conservation have largely been used to save some of the premier wildlife habitats which have been disappearing at an alarming rate since 1949 (Newbold, 1989), many as a result of the post-war intensification of agriculture. In consequence, insect conservation on farmland has developed from the pragmatic requirements of the farming community itself; not from a desire to preserve insects per se, but because they are central to the management of wild, but cropped species - such as game birds - or because insect predators and parasitoids have the potential to control pest species. However, the management practices developed for pragmatic reasons may have major benefits for other farmland wildlife, and may be adopted for altruistic ends.
This paper reports on The Cereals and Gamebirds Research Project of the Game Conservancy Trust. The principal aim of this project was to devise a practical management system whereby the decline in wild grey partridge (Perdix perdix L.) populations could be halted and reversed. The management system has become known as 'conservation headlands''. The development of the conservation headland concept, its effects on the insect food of the partridge, on partridge populations and on beneficial and aesthetic insect species (with particular reference to butterfiies), and its potential for use in nature conservation are described.

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