Rita Ketner-Oostra, Laurens B. Sparrius and Karlè V. Sýkora

Jinze Noordijk, Ivo Raemakers, André Schaffers and Karlè Sýkora

Abstract

Urbanisation and intensification of agriculture has led to large scale destruction of natural and semi-natural areas in Western Europe. Consequentially, the conservation of biodiversity in small landscape units has become a matter of increasing urgency. In this paper, we inventoried the arthropod diversity in roadside verges in the Netherlands and studied the relative importance of these linear elements. In addition, the occurrence of arthropods in roadside verges in other countries was studied by literature research. In the period 1998-2008, we sampled 57 roadside verges. This was mainly done by pitfall trapping, using sweeping nets and insect nets, and by sight observations. For several arthropod groups the majority of the Dutch indigenous species was sampled: ants (56% of the indigenous species), grasshoppers (53%), harvestmen (67%) and two spider families (52% and 68%). For ground beetles, weevils, butterflies, bees, hoverflies and three other spider families, values between 18–41% were found. Considering that only a minute fraction of the vast network of roadsides was sampled, these figures are remarkably high. Roadside verges are occasionally reported to act as dispersal corridors for exotic species, but this could not be confirmed for arthropods in the Netherlands. Several of the arthropod species inventoried in the Dutch verges are classified as threatened: five grasshopper and eleven bee species appear on national Red Lists and six ant species on the IUCN Red List. Also, in several other countries roadside verges in intensively used landscapes appear to offer opportunities for arthropod conservation. We conclude that, if rightly managed, roadside verges can serve as an important and valuable arthropod habitat. Therefore, we strongly recommend taking always into account the conservation of these arthropod assemblages during planning and actual management of roadside verges.