The effects of tillage regimen (conventional [CT] and no-tillage [NT]) on the activity density and diversity of carabid beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) was studied by pitfall trapping within a rain-fed cropping system in northwestern Idaho, 2000–2002. The cropping rotation consisted of a spring cereal (barley, Hordeum vulgare L., in 2000 and 2001; and wheat, Triticum aestivum L., in 2002), spring dry pea (Pisum sativum L.) 2000–2002, and wheat (T. aestivum), spring in 2000 and 2001, and winter in 2002. A total of 14,480 beetles comprised of 30 species was captured, with five numerically dominant species [Poecilus scitulus L., Poecilus lucublandus Say, Microlestes linearis L., Pterostichus melanarius Ill., and Calosoma cancellatum (Eschscholtz)], accounting for 98% of all captures. All species including the dominants responded idiosyncratically to tillage regimen. Adjusting for trapping biases did not significantly change seasonal activity density of Poecilus spp. or Pt. melanarius to tillage. More beetles were captured in CT than in NT crops because of the dominance of P. scitulus in CT, whereas species richness and biological diversity were generally higher in NT crops. Observed patterns suggest that direct effects of tillage affected some species, whereas indirect effects related to habitat characteristics affected others. CT may provide habitat preferable to xerophilic spring breeders. A relationship was found between beetle species size and tillage regimen in pea and to a lesser extent across all spring crops, with large species (>14 mm) conserved more commonly in NT, small species (<7 mm) in CT, and intermediate species (7–14 mm) conserved equally between tillage systems.
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