The Maasheggen area is a unique cultivated landscape in the Netherlands (near Boxmeer, province Noord-Brabant) and has been designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve (https://www.maasheggenunesco.com/en/). Its mosaic of hedgerows, small arable fields and meadows make this a very interesting area to study the effects of land use and landscape elements on functional biodiversity and ecosystem services. Adding heterogeneity in agroecosystems is a no-regret solution to restoring insect populations. Moreover, landscape elements are also essential in a transition to nature-inclusive farming. The Maasheggen provides a field laboratory to investigate the value of hedges and field management (mowing regimes, fertilizer input), and thus an important way to learn how to best implement heterogeneity in agricultural landscapes.
Since 2019, our group studies below- and above ground diversity in microorganisms and arthropods. We use pitfall traps to sample ground-dwelling arthropods in permanent grasslands and crop fields, focusing on identifications of beetles (particularly Carabidae) and spiders. Both of these groups are important (generalist) predators in this environment.