Diversity of parasitic Hymenoptera in Irish agricultural grasslands

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Resource or Project Abstract

This study set out to test the hypothesis that parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera: Parasitica) are suitable bioindicators for, and can provide a useful means to assess, the wider biodiversity of arthropod populations in agro-ecosystems. A total of 178 genera of parasitoid Hymenoptera were identified in agricultural grasslands during the study. These identifications have been verified by independent taxonomic experts, and include ten taxa not previously recorded from Ireland. All taxa, including the new records were collected from moderately-to-intensively managed grasslands, suggesting that even in such commonplace habitats there may be much Irish biodiversity yet to be discovered. Using multiple data sets, we show that in agricultural grasslands both the abundance and diversity of parasitoid wasp taxa are more closely correlated with overall arthropod diversity than is the incidence of any other insect group; a fact that provides us with a practicable and usable monitoring tool for tracking change in wider arthropod diversity.

Assessment of parasitoid assemblages in existing Teagasc field experiments contrasting different aspects of grassland husbandry (the use of conservation field margins at Johnstown Castle, and the reduction of nutrient inputs and stocking rates at Johnstown Castle and Grange) showed a consistent pattern of management effects on parasitoid abundance, diversity and altered community structure; parasitoid taxa associated with predictable host groups such as aphids and dung-breeding Diptera, being more prominent in more intensive grassland treatments, while a greater diversity of parasitoids of particularly well concealed plant-mining and gall-forming insect larval hosts, and insect and spider eggs being characteristic of more extensive management treatments.

The project has confirmed the initial hypothesis and illustrated the bioindicator potential of parasitoids populations. The total abundance of parasitoids is a reliable and relatively easily measured indicator of overall arthropod diversity in agricultural grasslands, providing an eminently user friendly monitoring tool. However, the project has also shown that a more detailed knowledge of parasitoid taxonomy, biology and host groups can provide a unique ecological insight into underlying environmental influences affecting wider arthropod biodiversity and community structure. With improving knowledge of their host group relationships, parasitoids offer a unique means to study the highly ?cryptic?, hidden biodiversity that occurs even in the most commonplace of habitats, and which would otherwise be almost impossible to assess directly by any other means.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr Annette Anderson
UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science

Dr Gordon Purvis
University College Dublin

Dr Alvin Helden
Anglia Ruskin University

Dr Helen Sheridan
University College Dublin

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_3_Anderson_HYMENOPTERA_prn.pdf  (3.31 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_3_Anderson_HYMENOPTERA_web.pdf  (0.79 Mb)

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Author(s)Anderson, A. Purvis, G. Helden, A. Sheridan, H.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationDiversity of parasitic Hymenoptera in Irish agricultural grasslands
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=18e90b38-507d-102b-950d-28616e04c7da
Unique Identifier18e90b38-507d-102b-950d-28616e04c7da
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-04-17

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Anderson, A. Purvis, G. Helden, A. Sheridan, H.   "Diversity of parasitic Hymenoptera in Irish agricultural grasslands". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=18e90b38-507d-102b-950d-28616e04c7da (Last Accessed: 2024-04-17)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=61
Resource KeywordsParasitic Hymenoptera, Biodiversity, Agricultural grassland
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2003-FS-CD-LS-14-M1
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeBiodiversity
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny persons or organisations wishing to make use of the data provided should list obtain the consent of the primary author, and any subsequent use should acknowledge this data source including authors and original source of funding
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 2
Project Start Date Monday 1st July 2002 (01-07-2002)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 1st July 2002 (01-07-2002)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Wednesday 31st August 2005 (31-08-2005)
Published on SAFERMonday 31st March 2008 (31-03-2008)
Date of Last EditTuesday 3rd June 2008 at 20:07:01 (03-06-2008)
Datasets or Files Updated On Tuesday 3rd June 2008 at 20:07:01 (03-06-2008)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
South Eastern Ireland. Lowland (below 200m) grass-based agricultural land was sampled from the counties: Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Wicklow, Laois, Kildare and Meath. Detailed site description cannot be given to maintain farmer confidentiality.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
Ireland has a responsiblity towards the 1992 Rio di Janeiro Convention in halting biodiversity loss. Agricultural land comprises 64% of the total land use area of Ireland and therefore the farming sector can play an important role in managing biodiversity. The Ag-Biota project (ERTDI 2001-CD/B1-M1), with which this project is directly linked, addressed a variety of issues relating to biodiversity within the agricultural sector.
Supplementary Information
This dataset covers samples that were collected using a Vortis suction sampler across a number of sites, field experiments and dates from July 2002 to the end of August 2005. The data were collected from an initial 10 site survey, a much larger 50 site survey and also replicated field experiments across south east Ireland. These replicated field experiments compared genera of parasitic Hymenoptera between fenced field margins and openly grazed paddocks; a conventional high input system and a REPS-compatible system; and investigated the response of parasitic Hymenoptera to the cessation of nitrogen inputs.

Stephen McCormack PhD student (Current position:
UCD School of Biology & Environmental Science, Agriculture and Food Science Centre) assisted with parasitoid identification

We would like to thank Ronan Gleeson Yasmine Lovic, Julie Melling and Tim Carnus for assistance in the collection and initial sorting of samples. Many thanks also go to Dr Gavin Broad and Dr Andrew Polaszek (Hatural History Museum, London) and Mr. Hannes Baur (Natural HIstory Museum, Switzerland) for their assistance with verifying, correcting and determining identifications of the parasitoids. Many thanks also go to Dr Jim O'Connor (National Museum of Ireland, Natural History).
Links To Other Related Resources
  http://www.ucd.ie/agbiota (Opens in a new window)

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