Mediterranean dry stone walls as elements of ecological infrastructure


Abstract: Ecological infrastructure has a great impact on biological control of harmful insects. Although main elements of ecological infrastructure, such as weedy margins, wildflower strips, natural hedges belong to live nature, some of the important inorganic elements of a landscape are stones or dry stone walls. Dry stone walls are structures made of natural stones, typical for Mediterranean landscape. The main aim of this research was to explore the effect of dry stone walls on epigeic arthropods abundance and diversity. In this research two olive orchards surrounded by dry stone walls were chosen. In each locality six pitfall traps were placed, three near the dry stone wall and three in the central part of the orchard. In total 377 individuals (spiders, harvestmen, and insects) belonging to 15 families were found. In both localities, a higher number of arthropods were found near the dry stone walls unlike the central part of the orchards. Shannon Wiener Index was also higher at the dry stone walls. Our results suggest that Mediterranean dry stone walls could help in raising the activity and biodiversity of beneficial arthropods.

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