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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336749

Research Project: Enhancing Environmental Quality and Ecosystem Services in Southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Environmental factors affecting the spatial distribution and trophic interactions of arthropod communities at a bioenergy farm in the Southeastern Plains, USA

Author
item Coffin, Alisa
item Olson, Dawn
item Schmidt, Jason - University Of Georgia
item Seymour, Lynne - University Of Georgia
item Pisani, Oliva
item Strickland, Timothy - Tim

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2017
Publication Date: 4/10/2017
Citation: Coffin, A.W., Olson, D.M., Schmidt, J., Seymour, L., Pisani, O., Strickland, T.C. 2017. [ABSTRACT] Environmental factors affecting the spatial distribution and trophic interactions of arthropod communities at a bioenergy farm in the Southeastern Plains, USA. Presented at 2017 US-IALE meeting in Baltimore, MD, April, 2017.

Interpretive Summary: The abundance and composition of arthropod communities in agricultural landscapes vary across space and time, responding to environmental features, resources and behavioral cues. As “second-generation” bioenergy feedstocks continue to develop, knowledge is needed about the broader scale ecological implications of proliferating these crops across the landscape, including the ecosystem services they provide, such as biological control. This study examined the spatial and temporal variability of arthropod communities within fields of a Miscanthus x giganteus farm in the Tifton Upland ecoregion of the Southeastern Plains, USA. We collected arthropods within a grid system across the fields three times a year for two years. Characteristics of terrain, position, soils and plant health were also measured. Using geostatistical methods, we interpolated the point datasets and mapped changes in their spatio-temporal patterns over the growing season. We found that environmental variability had differential effects on arthropod groups, and results suggest seasonal patterns of distribution across fields. For spider communities, local characteristics of terrain and soil composition were correlated with spatial patterns of abundance and diversity, and the diversity of spiders fluctuated over the landscape during the season. Whereas for ants, although these populations varied over time, populations were less strongly influenced by environmental variability. Molecular gut content analysis revealed complex trophic interactions on economic species and common prey for predators. These results suggest that Miscanthus x fields provide some habitat heterogeneity at a broader scale, and that field edge habitat likely contributes to the influences of Miscanthus x crop acreages on arthropod communities.

Technical Abstract: The abundance and composition of arthropod communities in agricultural landscapes vary across space and time, responding to environmental features, resources and behavioral cues. As “second-generation” bioenergy feedstocks continue to develop, knowledge is needed about the broader scale ecological implications of proliferating these crops across the landscape, including the ecosystem services they provide, such as biological control. This study examined the spatial and temporal variability of arthropod communities within fields of a Miscanthus x giganteus farm in the Tifton Upland ecoregion of the Southeastern Plains, USA. We collected arthropods within a grid system across the fields three times a year for two years. Characteristics of terrain, position, soils and plant health were also measured. Using geostatistical methods, we interpolated the point datasets and mapped changes in their spatio-temporal patterns over the growing season. We found that environmental variability had differential effects on arthropod groups, and results suggest seasonal patterns of distribution across fields. For spider communities, local characteristics of terrain and soil composition were correlated with spatial patterns of abundance and diversity, and the diversity of spiders fluctuated over the landscape during the season. Whereas for ants, although these populations varied over time, populations were less strongly influenced by environmental variability. Molecular gut content analysis revealed complex trophic interactions on economic species and common prey for predators. These results suggest that Miscanthus x fields provide some habitat heterogeneity at a broader scale, and that field edge habitat likely contributes to the influences of Miscanthus x crop acreages on arthropod communities.