Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Crop Protection and Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #347364

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

Location: Crop Protection and Management Research

Title: Ecological enrichment in agroecosystems: Utilizing wildflowers to promote beneficial arthropod communities

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

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2017
Publication Date: 11/5/2017
Citation: Xavier, S., Olson, D.M., Coffin, A.W., Schmidt, J. 2017. Ecological enrichment in agroecosystems: Utilizing wildflowers to promote beneficial arthropod communities. Meeting Abstract. [abstract]. Entomological Society of America.

Interpretive Summary: Beneficial arthropods which provide important ecosystems services have come under threat as a result of intensive agricultural practices and landscape simplification. Engineering diverse heterogeneous agricultural landscapes to provide optimal resources for beneficial arthropods may recover and enhance ecosystem service delivery. In our study, we aim to assess the effects of small-scale habitat enrichment on populations of beneficial arthropods by incorporating areas of wildflowers in agricultural landscapes. We examined the potential of different commercial wildflower mixes to support diverse beneficial arthropods within contrasting landscape and management contexts during the summer of 2016 and 2017. Flower mixes were sown in 20 plots in Tifton, Georgia, in four treatments: irrigated vs. non-irrigated, combined with adjacent to agricultural fields vs. woodland. The arthropod communities were sampled visually and with a suction sampler. Quadrat sampling was carried out simultaneously to estimate the density of inflorescences. The visual samples indicated a positive relationship between the density of floral resources and pollinator visits whereas the management context has a variable effect on the arthropod populations. Over 10,000 predators were collected during both the sample periods. Among the predators collected, arachnids were prominent in both years. We recorded considerably high family richness within the flower plots then in the control plots, which suggests developing natural heterogeneous vegetation will reinforce and conserve arthropod community assemblages in the landscape.

Technical Abstract: Beneficial arthropods which provide important ecosystems services have come under threat as a result of intensive agricultural practices and landscape simplification. Engineering diverse heterogeneous agricultural landscapes to provide optimal resources for beneficial arthropods may recover and enhance ecosystem service delivery. In our study, we aim to assess the effects of small-scale habitat enrichment on populations of beneficial arthropods by incorporating areas of wildflowers in agricultural landscapes. We examined the potential of different commercial wildflower mixes to support diverse beneficial arthropods within contrasting landscape and management contexts during the summer of 2016 and 2017. Flower mixes were sown in 20 plots in Tifton, Georgia, in four treatments: irrigated vs. non-irrigated, combined with adjacent to agricultural fields vs. woodland. The arthropod communities were sampled visually and with a suction sampler. Quadrat sampling was carried out simultaneously to estimate the density of inflorescences. The visual samples indicated a positive relationship between the density of floral resources and pollinator visits whereas the management context has a variable effect on the arthropod populations. Over 10,000 predators were collected during both the sample periods. Among the predators collected, arachnids were prominent in both years. We recorded considerably high family richness within the flower plots then in the control plots, which suggests developing natural heterogeneous vegetation will reinforce and conserve arthropod community assemblages in the landscape.