Pennycress-corn double-cropping increases ground beetle diversity

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Pennycress has been suggested as an alternative feedstock for bioenergy. Especially its cultivation in a double-cropping system with corn seems promising for a sustainable production. In this study we investigated the effect of a pennycress-corn double-cropping system on ground beetle diversity as an aspect of its sustainability. In a randomized block design we used 60 pitfall traps to compare the system's ground beetle diversity to that of three commonly applied corn rotations: mustard-corn, green fallow-corn and bare fallow-corn. Sampling was conducted from March 13th to July 10th and included the corresponding cultivation changes to corn. We found that the pennycress-corn system harbored a higher ground beetle abundance, richness, Shannon index and evenness than the other three systems. Plant cover over winter seemed to be a driving factor. Predatory species, the largest group in both abundance and richness, were only affected early in the year, whereas herbivorous species showed a positive response throughout the sampling period. We conclude that pennycress cultivation in the proposed double-cropping system does not have detrimental, but potentially positive effects on ground beetle diversity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Pages (from-to)16-25
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2015

    Research areas

  • Abundance, Bioenergy, Carabidae, Species richness, Thlaspi arvense
  • Ecosystems Research