Publications by authors named "Julien Piqueray"

5 Publications

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Contribution of Extensive Farming Practices to the Supply of Floral Resources for Pollinators.

Insects 2020 Nov 20;11(11). Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Natagriwal Asbl, Passage des Déportés 2, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium.

Intensification of agricultural practices leads to a loss of floral resources and drives pollinator decline. Extensive agricultural practices are encouraged in Europe and contribute to the preservation of biodiversity. We compared three agricultural landscapes without extensive farming practices with three adjacent landscapes containing organic crops and extensively managed grasslands in Belgium. Nectar resource availability and plant-pollinator interactions were monitored from April to June. Flower density per plant species and plant-pollinator interactions were recorded in different landscape elements. In April, the main nectar resources were provided by linear elements such as hedgerows and forest edges. Nectar production peaked in May, driven by intensive grasslands and mass-flowering crops. Occurrence of extensive grasslands and organic crops significantly alleviated the nectar resource gap observed in June. Our results underscore the importance of maintaining landscape heterogeneity for continuous flower resources and highlight the specific role of extensive grasslands and organic crops in June.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/insects11110818DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7699504PMC
November 2020

Topsoil translocation in extensively managed arable field margins promotes plant species richness and threatened arable plant species.

J Environ Manage 2020 Apr 22;260:110126. Epub 2020 Jan 22.

University of Liege, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Biodiversity and Landscape Unit, Passage des Déportés 2, 5030, Gembloux, Belgium.

Since the 1950s, agriculture has intensified drastically, which has led to a significant biodiversity decline on arable lands. This decline was especially dramatic for segetal plant species, the specialist species of cereal fields. Due to the low population density and poor dispersal abilities of many segetal species, the recovery of species-rich fields may fail even though the environmental conditions are suitable. Therefore, conservation efforts including active restoration measures aimed at recovering segetal vegetation are needed. To this purpose, we propose to alleviate dispersal limitation by means of topsoil translocation from a species-rich donor arable field. At two receiver sites, we tested this technique using two topsoil-spreading densities, i.e. 2.5L/m and 5L/m in experimental plots (3 m). At one receiver site, we tested the impact of topsoil translocation from two different donor sites, while in the other receiver site one donor site was used. We compared plant species diversity and composition of treated plots with control plots as well as with the species composition of the donor sites (field survey) and their seed bank (greenhouse survey). Species richness was increased by topsoil spreading, including richness of threatened species. 33% and 71% of the threatened species were successfully translocated respectively at the two receiver sites. At one site, plant cover was also increased, including threatened species cover. Conversely, topsoil spreading did not promote pernicious species that could affect farmer acceptance negatively. Vegetation of translocated plots was more similar in terms of species composition to donor site seed banks than to donor site field survey. The higher spreading density led to increased species richness when seed bank in topsoil had lower density. Our results show that topsoil translocation can be a highly effective method for restoring threatened segetal plant communities in agricultural landscapes. Even when a full plant community was already present (Receiver 1) topsoil transfer led to a doubling in species richness. The seed bank surveys were a good indicator of plant community composition upon topsoil translocation in the field and are therefore advisable to implement in the project-planning phase to evaluate donor site potential. From our results, we recommend to spread soil at an overall rate of 500 seeds/m equivalent. Future studies need to assess the long-term fate of the translocated species as well as the impacts of soil harvests on the donor sites to establish sustainable use levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110126DOI Listing
April 2020

The influence of ecological infrastructures adjacent to crops on their carabid assemblages in intensive agroecosystems.

PeerJ 2020 10;8:e8094. Epub 2020 Jan 10.

Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Biodiversity and Landscape, University of Liège, Gembloux, Belgium.

Background: Conserving biodiversity and enhancing ecosystem services of interest in intensive agroecosystems is a major challenge. Perennial ecological infrastructures (EIs), such as hedges and grassy strips, and annual EI under Agri-Environment Schemes appear to be good candidates to promote both. Our study focused on carabids, an indicator group responding both at the species and functional trait level to disturbances and supporting pest control and weed seed consumption services.

Methods: We compared carabid assemblages at the species and functional traits levels, sampled via pitfall trapping, in three types of EIs (hedges, grassy strips and annual flower strips) and crops. We also tested via GLMs the effect of (1) the type of EI at the crops' border and (2) the distance from the crops' border (two meters or 30 meters) on carabid assemblages of crops. Tested variables comprised: activity-density, species richness, functional dispersion metrics (FDis) and proportions of carabids by functional categories (Diet: generalist predators/specialist predators/seed-eaters; Size: small/medium/large/very large; Breeding period: spring/autumn).

Results And Discussion: Carabid assemblages on the Principal Coordinate Analysis split in two groups: crops and EIs. Assemblages from all sampled EIs were dominated by mobile generalist predator species from open-land, reproducing in spring. Assemblages of hedges were poor in activity-density and species richness, contrarily to grassy and annual flower strips. Differences in carabid assemblages in crops were mainly driven by the presence of hedges. The presence of hedges diminished the Community Weighted Mean size of carabids in crops, due to an increased proportion of small (<5 mm) individuals, while distance from crops' border favoured large (between 10-15 mm) carabids. Moreover, even if they were attracted by EIs, granivorous carabid species were rare in crops. Our results underlie the importance of local heterogeneity when adapting crops' borders to enhance carabid diversity and question the relevance of hedge implantation in intensive agrolandscapes, disconnected from any coherent ecological network. Moreover, this study emphasizes the difficulty to modify functional assemblages of crops for purposes of ecosystem services development, especially for weed seed consumption, as well as the role of distance from the crops' border in the shaping of crop carabid assemblages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.8094DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6956773PMC
January 2020

Management of Grassland-like Wildflower Strips Sown on Nutrient-rich Arable Soils: The Role of Grass Density and Mowing Regime.

Environ Manage 2019 05 13;63(5):647-657. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Biodiversity and landscape Unit, University of Liege, Passage des Déportés 2, Gembloux, 5030, Belgium.

Wildflower strips (WS) are proposed in many European countries as a strategy to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services in arable fields. To create and maintain WS on nutrient-rich cultivated soils reveals challenging. Flowered species may be outcompeted by grasses due to high phosphorus content in soil. We studied during 5 years seed mixture (grass density in the seed mix) and mowing regime influenced the ability of WS to provide environmental benefits (flower provision for insects and landscape purposes, reduction of soil nutrient load) and respond to farmer concerns (noxious weed promotion, forage production). Lowered grass density increased flower abundance, but not diversity, only in the first 3 years. In the last 2 years mowing effects became determinant. Flower cover and richness were the highest under the twice-a-year mowing regime. This regime also increased forage quantity and quality. Flower colour diversity was conversely the highest where mowing occurred every two years. Potassium in the soil decreased under the twice-a-year mowing regime. Other nutrients were not affected. No management option kept noxious weed to an acceptable level after 5 years. This supports the need to test the efficacy of specific management practices such as selective clipping or spraying. Mowing WS twice a year was retained as the most favourable treatment to maintain species-rich strips with an abundant flower provision. It however implies to mow in late June, i.e. at the peak of insect abundance. It is therefore suggested to keep an unmown refuge zone when applying this management regime.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-019-01153-yDOI Listing
May 2019

Perception and understanding of invasive alien species issues by nature conservation and horticulture professionals in Belgium.

Environ Manage 2011 Mar 20;47(3):425-42. Epub 2011 Feb 20.

Biodiversity and Landscape Unit, Department of Forest, Nature and Landscape, Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, University of Liege, Passage des Déportés, 2, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium.

We conducted a survey to determine how two professional sectors in Belgium, horticulture professionals and nature reserve managers (those directly involved in conservation), view the issues associated with invasive plant species. We developed and utilized a questionnaire that addressed the themes of awareness, concept and use of language, availability of information, impacts and, finally, control and available solutions. Using co-inertia analyses, we tested to what extent the perception of invasive alien species (IAS) was dependent upon the perception of Nature in general. Only forty-two percent of respondent horticulture professionals and eighty-two percent of nature reserve managers had a general knowledge of IAS. Many individuals in both target groups nonetheless had an accurate understanding of the scientific issues. Our results therefore suggest that the manner in which individuals within the two groups view, or perceive, the IAS issue was more the result of lack of information than simply biased perceptions of target groups. Though IAS perceptions by the two groups diverged, they were on par with how they viewed Nature in general. The descriptions of IAS by participants converged with the ideas and concepts frequently found in the scientific literature. Both managers and horticulture professionals expressed a strong willingness to participate in programs designed to prevent the spread of, and damage caused by, IAS. Despite this, the continued commercial availability of many invasive species highlighted the necessity to use both mandatory and voluntary approaches to reduce their re-introduction and spread. The results of this study provide stakeholders and conservation managers with practical information on which communication and management strategies can be based.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-011-9621-8DOI Listing
March 2011