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Research Project: Ecology and Biologically-based Management Systems for Insect Pests in Agricultural Landscapes in the Southeastern Region

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Simple landscape modifications for pollinator and arthropod natural enemy enhancement

item XAVIER, SHEREEN - University Of Georgia
item Olson, Dawn
item Coffin, Alisa
item SCHMIDT, JASON - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2017
Publication Date: 11/6/2017
Citation: Xavier, S., Olson, D.M., Coffin, A.W., Schmidt, J. 2017. Simple landscape modifications for pollinator and arthropod natural enemy enhancement. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, November 5-8, 2017, Denver, Colorado.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Beneficial arthropods which play an important role in providing ecosystem services (pollination and pest control) have come under threat as a result of intensive agricultural practices and simplification of habitats. Ecological intensification in agricultural landscapes by diversifying the habitat represents a viable alternative to aid in recovery of services provided by beneficial organisms. In our study, we aim to sustainably enrich the agricultural landscape by incorporating small areas of wildflowers to augment the population of beneficial arthropods. We examined the potential of different commercial native wildflower mixes to support a diversity of beneficial arthropods within contrasting landscape and management contexts during the summers of 2016 and 2017. Flower border plots were sown in 19 experimental locations in Tifton, Georgia, in four treatments: irrigated and adjacent to agricultural field, non-irrigated and adjacent to agricultural fields, irrigated and adjacent to woodland, and non-irrigated and adjacent to woodland. The arthropod communities were sampled visually and with a suction sampler, bimonthly from May through August. Quadrat sampling was carried out simultaneously to estimate the density of floral inflorescences. The visual samples indicated a positive relationship between the quantity of the floral resources and pollinator visits. Over 5000 predators were collected during the summer of 2016, and the prominent predators found in the suction samples were arachnids and geocorids, with a significantly higher density of both found in the irrigated than the non-irrigated plots. Altogether, we recorded over 50 families of insects within the flower plots, which demonstrated the importance of these small areas of natural heterogeneous vegetation for reinforcing and conserving different arthropod community assemblages in the landscape.