Agricultural intensification may create an attractive sink for Dolichopodidae, a ubiquitous but understudied predatory fly family

  • Andrea R. Kautz
  • Mary M. GardinerEmail author


Long-legged flies (Dolichopodidae) are common within U.S. agroecosystems, but rarely the focus of ecological study. Given a documented sensitivity to environmental changes, at least in natural systems like grasslands and reed marshes, we aimed to determine how local management and landscape-scale factors might influence the community assemblage of Dolichopodidae found within vegetable farms. During the summer of 2013 and 2014, pan trapping was used to sample the long-legged fly community present in produce farms across the northeast region of the U.S. state of Ohio; farms were selected to represent gradients of landscape complexity and management intensity. Communities found within sweet corn, summer squash, and unmanaged old fields were surveyed. Over 3000 flies representing 11 genera and 33 species were collected. This adds an additional 4 genera and 19 species as occurring within the study region. In nearly all cases, we found that Dolichopodidae abundance and the diversity of genera collected was greater within vegetable crops versus set-aside habitats on farms. Within croplands, the value of a habitat patch for Dolichopodidae was highly dependent on agricultural intensification; fields with a high frequency of pesticide use and conventional tillage practices supported reduced abundance and diversity. Landscapes dominated by agricultural production were also found to reduce the species pool of Dolichopodidae found within sampled habitats. Our findings provide an important baseline of Dolichopodidae species and their relative abundance within regional agricultural landscapes. They also highlight the potential that highly attractive but intensively managed croplands may act as ecological traps, with consequences for Dolichopodidae conservation.


Long-legged fly Biological control Landscape Non-target impacts Pesticide Tillage Ecological trap 



Thank you to the Gardiner Laboratory for assistance with field collections. Funding supported by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center SEEDS grant program. We greatly appreciate the collecting advice and taxonomic keys provided by Scott Brooks, Marc Pollet, and Dan Bickel.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10841_2018_116_MOESM1_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 32 KB)


  1. Addinsoft (2015) XLSTAT V. 2015.1.01. Data analysis and statistics software for Microsoft ExcelGoogle Scholar
  2. Batáry P, Báldi A, Sárospataki sM, Kohler F, Verhulst J, Knop E, Herzog F, Kleijn D (2010) Effect of conservation management on bees and insect-pollinated grassland plant communities in three European countries. Agric Ecosyst Environ 136:35–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batáry P, Dicks LV, Kleijn D, Sutherland WJ (2015) The role of agri-environment schemes in conservation and environmental management. Conserv Biol 29:1006–1016CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Battin J (2004) When good animals love bad habitats: Ecological traps and the conservation of animal populations. Conserv Biol 18:1482–1491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beaver RA (1966) The biology and immature stages of two species of Medetera (Diptera: Dolichopodidae) associated with the bark beetle Scolytus scolytus (F.). Proc R Entomol Soc Lond A 41:145–154Google Scholar
  6. Bennett AB, Gratton C (2012) Local and landscape scale variables impact parasitoid assemblages across an urbanization gradient. Landsc Urban Plan 104:26–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Best LB (1986) Conservation tillage: ecological traps for nesting birds? Wildl Soc Bull 14:308–317Google Scholar
  8. Bickel DJ (2009) Dolichopodidae (long-legged flies). In: Brown B, Borkent MA, Cumming BV, Wood A, Woodley JM, D.M., & Zumbado NE (eds) Manual of central American diptera, vol 1. NRC Research Press, Ottawa, pp 671–694Google Scholar
  9. Bommarco R, Kleijn D, Potts SG (2013) Ecological intensification: harnessing ecosystem services for food security. Trends Ecol Evol 28:230–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bortolotto OC, Menezes AD, Hoshino AT (2016) Abundance of natural enemies of wheat aphids at different distances from the edge of the forest. Pesquisa Agropecuaria Brasileira 51:187–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brainard DC, Bryant A, Noyes DC, Haramoto ER, Szendrei Z (2016) Evaluating pest-regulating services under conservation agriculture: a case study in snap beans. Agric Ecosyst Environ 235:142–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown DG, Johnson KM, Loveland TR, Theobald DM (2005) Rural land-use trends in the conterminous United States, 1950–2000. Ecol Appl 15:1851–1863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carrascal LM, Galván I, Gordo O (2009) Partial least squares regression as an alternative to current regression methods used in ecology. Oikos 118:681–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chynoweth RJ, Marris JWM, Armstrong KF, Chomic A, Linton J, Chapman RB (2013) Predation by Ostenia robusta on Costelytra zealandica pupae. New Zealand Plant Protection 66:157–161Google Scholar
  15. Cicero JM, Adair MM, Adair RC, Hunter WB, Avery PB, Mizel RF (2017) Predatory behavior of long-legged flies (Diptera: Dolichopodidae) and their potential negative effects on the parasitoid biological control agent of the Asian citrius psyllid (Hemiptera: Liviidae). Fla Entomolo 100:485–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clark S, Szlávecz K, Cavigelli MA, Purrington F (2006) Ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) assemblages in organic, no-till, and chisel-till cropping systems in Maryland. Environ Entomol 35:1304–1312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Delibes M, Ferreras P, Gaona P (2001) Attractive sinks, or how individual behavioural decisions determine source-sink dynamics. Ecol Lett 4:401–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ekroos J, Olsson O, Rundlöf M, Wätzold F, Smith HG (2014) Optimizing agri-environment schemes for biodiversity, ecosystem services or both? Biol Cons 172:65–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Falk SJ, Crossley R (2005) A review of the scarce and threatened flies of Great Britain. Part 3: Empidoidea. Species Status, 3, 1-134. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  20. Free JH, Williams IH, Longden PC, Johnson MG (1975) Insect pollination of sugar-beet (Beta vulgaris) seed crops. Ann Appl Biol 81:127–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gardiner MM, Tuell JK, Isaacs R, Gibbs J, Asher JS, Landis DA (2010) Implications of three biofuel crops for beneficial arthropods in agricultural landscapes. Bioenergy Res 3:6–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gardiner MM, Prajzner SP, Burkman CE, Albro S, Grewal PS (2014) Vacant land conversion to community gardens: influences on generalist arthropod predators and biocontrol services in urban greenspaces. Urban Ecosyst 17:101–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Garibaldi LA, Carvalheiro LG, Leonhardt SD, Aizen MA, Blaauw BR, Isaacs R, Kuhlmann M, Kleijn D, Klein AM, Kremen C, Morandin L, Scheper J, Winfree R (2014) From research to action: enhancing crop yield through wild pollinators. Front Ecol Environ 12:439–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gelbič I, Olejníček J (2011) Ecology of Dolichopodidae (Diptera) in a wetland habitat and their potential role as bioindicators. Open Life Sci 6:118–129Google Scholar
  25. Gill KA, O’Neal ME (2015) Survey of soybean insect pollinators: community identification and sampling method analysis. Environ Entomol 44:488–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guerrero I, Morales MB, Onate JJ, Geiger F, Berendse F, de Snoo G, Eggers S, Pärt T, Bengtsson J, Clement LW, Weisser WW, Olszewski A, Ceryingier P, Hawro V, Liira J, Aavik T, Fischer C, Flohre A, Thies C, Tscharntke T (2012) Response of ground-nesting farmland birds to agricultural intensification across Europe: landscape and field level management factors. Biol Cons 152:74–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hajkowicz S (2009) The evolution of Australia’s natural resource management programs: towards improved targeting and evaluation of investments. Land Use Policy 26:471–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Halada L, Evans D, Romao C, Petersen J-E (2011) Which habitats of European importance depend on agricultural practices? Biodivers Conserv 20:2365–2378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haussaman A (1996) The effects of weed strip-management on pests and beneficial arthropods in winter wheat fields. J Plant Dis Protect 103:70–81Google Scholar
  30. Inclán DJ, Cerretti P, Gabriel D, Benton TG, Salt SM, Kunin WE, Gillepie MAK, Marini L (2015) Organic farming enhances parasitoid diversity at the local and landscape scales. J Appl Ecol 52:1102–1109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Isaacs R, Tuell J, Fiedler A, Gardiner M, Landis D (2009) Maximizing arthropod-mediated ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes: the role of native plants. Front Ecol Environ 7:196–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jonsson M, Raartinen R, Straub CS (2017) Relationships between natural enemy diversity and biological control. Curr Opin Insect Sci 20:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kevan PG, Baker HG (1983) Insects as flower visitors and pollinators. Annu Rev Entomol 28:407–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kleijn D, Sutherland WJ (2003) How effective are European agri-environment schemes in conserving and promoting biodiversity? J Appl Ecol 40:947–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kleijn D, Rundlöf M, Scheper J, Smith HG, Tscharntke T (2011) Does conservation on farmland contribute to halting the biodiversity decline? Trends Ecol Evol 26:474–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kovach J, Petzoldt C, Degni J, Tette J (1992) A method to measure the environmental impact of pesticides. NY Food Life Sci Bull 139:1–8Google Scholar
  37. Krauss J, Gallenberger I, Steffan-Dewenter I (2011) Decreased functional diversity and biological pest control in conventional compared to organic crop fields. PLoS ONE 6:e19502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lambert DM, Sullivan P, Claassen R, Foreman L (2007) Profiles of US farm households adopting conservation-compatible practices. Land Use Policy 24:72–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Letourneau DK, Goldstein B (2001) Pest damage and arthropod community structure in organic vs. conventional tomato production in California. J Appl Ecol 38:557–570CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Losey JE, Vaughan M (2006) The economic value of ecological services provided by insects. Bioscience 56:311–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lundgren JG, López-Lavalle LAB, Parsa S, Wyckhuys KAG (2014) Molecular determination of the predator community of a cassava whitefly in Colombia: pest-specific primer development and field validation. J Pest Sci 87:125–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Motta Miranda MM, Picanco M, Matoli AL, Pallni Filho A (1998) Distribution in the plant and biological control of aphids (Homoptera, Aphididae) in tomato. Rev Brasileira Entomol 42:13–16Google Scholar
  43. Muratet A, Fontaine B (2015) Contrasting impacts of pesticides on butterflies and bumblebees in private gardens in France. Biol Cons 182:148–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Ngo HT, Mojica AC, Packer L (2011) Coffee plant—pollinator interactions: a review. Can J Zool 89:647–660CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pape T, Blagoderov V, Mostovski MB (2011) Order DIPTERA Linnaeus. Anim Biodivers 3148(237):222–229Google Scholar
  46. Pollet M (1992a) Impact of environmental variables on the occurrence of dolichopodid flies in marshland habitats in Belgium (Diptera: Dolichopodidae). J Nat Hist 26:621–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pollet M (1992b) Reedmarshes: a poorly appreciated habitat for Dolichopodidae. Dipter Digest 12:23–26Google Scholar
  48. Pollet M (2001) Dolichopodid biodiversity and site quality assessment of reed marshes and grasslands in Belgium (Diptera: Dolichopodidae). J Insect Conserv 5:99–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pollet M (2009) Diptera as ecological indicators of habitat and habitat change. In: Pape R, Bickel T, Meier D (eds) Diptera diversity: status, challenges and tools, pp. 302–322. Leiden, BostonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pollet M, Grootaert P (1994) Optimizing the water trap technique to collect Empidoidea (Diptera). Studia Dipterologica 1:33–48Google Scholar
  51. Pollet M, Brooks SE, Cumming JM (2004) Catalog of the Dolichopodidae (Diptera) of America North of Mexico. Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 283:1–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Potts SG, Biesmeijer JC, Kremen C, Neumann Pl, Schweiger O, Kunin WE (2010) Global pollinator declines: trends, impacts and drivers. Trends Ecol Evol 25:345–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Quinn NF, Brainard D, Szendrei Z (2016) The effect of conservation tillage and cover crop residue on beneficial arthropods and weed seed predation in acorn squash. Environ Entomol 45:1543–1551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Raj H, Mattu V, Thakur M (2012) Pollinator diversity and relative abundance of insect visitors on apple crop in Shimla Hills of Western Himalaya, India. Int J Sci Nat 3:507–513Google Scholar
  55. Rathman RJ, Brunner JF (1988) Abundance and composition of predators on young apple Malus domestica Borkhausen within sagebrush and riparian species pools in North Central Washington USA. Melanderia 46:65–82Google Scholar
  56. Regan K, Ordosch D, Glover KD, Tilmon KJ, Szczepaniec A (2017) Effects of a pyrethroid and two neonicotinoid insecticides on population dynamics of key pests of soybean and abundance of their natural enemies. Crop Prot 98:24–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Rivers A, Barbercheck M, Govaerts B, Verhulst N (2016) Conservation agriculture affects arthropod community composition in a rainfed maize-wheat system in central Mexico. Appl Soil Ecol 100:81–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Robertson BA, Rehage JS, Sih A (2013) Ecological novelty and the emergence of evolutionary traps. Trends Ecol Evol 28:552–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Robinson HE (1964) A synopsis of the Dolichopodidae (Diptera) of the southeastern United States and adjacent regions. Misc Publ Entomol Soc Am 4:103–192Google Scholar
  60. Robinson HE, Vockeroth JR (1981) Dolichopodidae. Manual of Nearctic Diptera. (ed. by McAlpine JF, Peterson BV, Shewell GE, Teskey HJ, Vockeroth JR, Wood DM). Agric Can Monogr 27:625–639Google Scholar
  61. Rotem G, Ziv Y, Giladi I, Bouskila A (2013) Wheat fields as an ecological trap for reptiles in a semiarid agroecosystem. Biol Cons 167:349–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rusch A, Chaplin-Kramer R, Gardiner MM, Hawro V, Holland J, Landis D, Thies C, Tscharntke T, Wiesser WW, Winqvist C, Woltz M, Bommarco R (2016) Agricultural landscape simplification reduces natural pest control: a quantitative synthesis. Agric Ecosyst Environ 221:198–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schlaepfer MA, Runge MC, Sherman PW (2002) Ecological and evolutionary traps. Trends Ecol Evol 17:474–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Steinborn VH, Meyer H (1994) Influence of “biological” and “conventional” (intensive) farming on the predatory arthropod fauna in agroecosystems of Schleswig-Holstein (Araneida, Coleoptera: Carabidae, Diptera: Dolichopodidae, Empididae, Hybotidae, Microphoridae). Faunistisch-Oekologische Mitteilungen 6:408–438Google Scholar
  65. Stoate C, Baldi A, Peja P, Boatman ND, Herzon I, van Doom A, de Snoo GR, Rakosy L, Ramwell C (2009) Ecological impacts of early 21st century agricultural change in Europe—a review. J Environ Manag 91:22–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tamburini G, De Simone S, Sigura M, Boscutti F, Marini L (2016a) Soil management shapes ecosystem service provision and trade-offs in agricultural landscapes. Proc R Soc Lond B 283:20161369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tamburini G, Pevere Il, FN, De Simone S, Sigura M, Boscutti F, Marini L (2016b) Conservation tillage reduces the negative impact of urbanisation on carabid communities. Insect Conserv Divers 9:438–445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tamburini G, De Simone S, Sigura M, Boscutti F, Marini L (2016c) Conservation tillage mitigates the negative effect of landscape simplification on biological control. J Appl Ecol 53:233–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tscharntke T, Klein AM, Kruess A, Steffan-Dewenter I, Thies C (2005) Landscape perspectives on agricultural intensification and biodiversity—ecosystem service management. Ecol Lett 8:857–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Ulrich H (2004) Predation by adult Dolichopodidae (Diptera): a review of literature with an annotated prey-predator list. Stud Dipterol 11:360–403Google Scholar
  71. van Buskirk J, Willi Y (2004) Enhancement of farmland biodiversity within set-aside land. Conserv Biol 18:987–994CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Werling BP, Meehan TD, Gratton C, Landis DA (2011) Influence of habitat and landscape perenniality on insect natural enemies in three candidate biofuel crops. Biol Control 59:304–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wheelock MJ, Rey KP, O’Neal ME (2016) Defining the insect pollinator community found in Iowa corn and soybean fields: Implications for pollinator conservation. Environ Entomol 45:1099–1106CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EntomologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Powdermill Nature ReserveRectorUSA

Personalised recommendations