Slug monitoring and impacts on the ground beetle community in the frame of sustainable pest control in conventional and conservation agroecosystems.
In conservation agriculture, slugs are considered significant pests and their monitoring is a key option in the integrated pest management framework. Together with molluscicide applications, predators such as ground beetles can offer a tool for slug control in the field. Through the evaluation of slug and ground beetle monitoring strategies, this work compared their presence in conventional and conservation agricultural plots. The invasive Deroceras invadens was the dominant slug species to occur in all sampling periods. Among Carabidae, Poecilus cupreus and Pterostichus melas were the most abundant species, and Bembidion spp., Brachinus spp., and Harpalus spp. were also common. Beer-baited pitfall traps, whatever their alcoholic content, caught more slugs and ground beetles than wooden boards used as shelters. Slugs were more abundant in conventional plots than in conservation plots, possibly due to the lower presence of natural enemies such as ground beetles. Despite possible impacts on Carabidae, beer-baited pitfall traps should be considered a useful tool for slug monitoring and for the planning of molluscicide applications. Soil management such as minimum- or no-tillage and the presence of cover crops are important elements influencing both slug and ground beetle presence, possibly playing a key role in the maintenance of natural enemy populations.