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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #337048

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

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Minor modifications in agricultural landscapes for promoting biodiversity through floral provisioning

Author
item Xavier, Shereen - University Of Georgia
item Coffin, Alisa
item Olson, Dawn
item Schmidt, Jason - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2017
Publication Date: 4/10/2017
Citation: Xavier, S., Coffin, A.W., Olson, D.M., Schmidt, J. 2017.[ABSTRACT] Minor modifications in agricultural landscapes for promoting biodiversity through floral provisioning. presented at 2017 US-IALE meeting in Baltimore, MD, April, 2017.

Interpretive Summary: There is growing interest in integrated pest management programs and habitat management to combat the decline in the diversity of beneficial arthropods, those insects and spiders that provide benefits such as pest control and pollination. Declines in their numbers in agricultural landscapes are caused by habitat simplification and intensive management practices. Recent declines in populations of pollinators has been noted as a serious problem for agriculture worldwide. Likewise, there is concern over declines in the numbers of predatory arthropods. We examined the value that adding commercial wildflower mixes to crop field border areas can have in improving the diversity of beneficial arthropods in landscapes. To do this, we compared wildflower border designs in differing experimental treatments that included: agriculture and irrigated edges, agriculture and non- irrigated edges, wooded and irrigated edges, and wooded and non-irrigated edges. Arthropods were sampled twice each month from June to August of 2016. Results showed an increase in density and diversity of arthropods related to the floral density. Although preliminary results indicate that the proportion of arthropods didn’t vary among different landscape treatments, the proportion of pollinators visiting no-flower controls were lower than treatments with wildflowers. The increase of pollinators in wildflower border treatments is important as an indicator of the potential value such borders may have for agricultural landscapes. At this stage of this ongoing research, one clear benefit is an increase in the number of pollinators hosted by wildflower borders.

Technical Abstract: There is growing interest in IPM programs and habitat management to combat the decline in diversity of beneficial arthropods in agricultural landscapes caused by habitat simplification and intensive management practices. Addition of floral resources to the landscape can help offset these effects. We examined the efficacy of different commercial wildflower mixes for improving the diversity of beneficial arthropods within contrasting landscape contexts. Flower border plots were sown in 20 experimental locations in Tifton, Georgia, in four different landscape treatments: agriculture and irrigated edges (AI), agriculture and non- irrigated edges (AN), wooded and irrigated edges (TI), and wooded and non-irrigated edges (TN). Each border plot were categorized into 8 sub-treatments where one was the control and the others were sown with different floral mixtures. Arthropod (visual and suction) and vegetation (visual) quadrat sampling was carried out twice every month between June to August 2016. Results obtained show an increase in the overall density and diversity of arthropods in relation to the floral density of the plots. Based on preliminary results from visual count estimates the proportion of arthropods didn’t vary among the different landscape treatments. However, the proportion of pollinators visiting the control were significantly lower than the other sub treatments of wildflowers. The prominent predators found in the suction samples were Arachnids and Geocorids. Although the habitat modification was implemented in considerably small strips, the results highlight the significant ecosystem services that these tailored strips can provide to the current agricultural landscapes