Habitat-based drivers of arthropod abundance and richness in an intensively farmed agricultural landscape

Dolezal, Aleksandra
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University of Guelph

Habitat is critical for sustaining arthropod populations, but its influence in agricultural landscapes where arthropods are declining is unclear. In a heavily farmed area of Ontario, I examined habitat effects on arthropods at two scales: landscape (habitat isolation) and local (farm cover type -crop, prairie, forest). Additional analyses tested differences in arthropod communities among cover types, how prairie addition affects leaf defoliation, whether crop type influences arthropods (soy, corn, orchard, mixed organic), and whether arthropod richness differs between farm and non-farm sites. I found arthropod richness and abundance to be determined locally, via the presence of restored high-quality prairie habitat. Prairie addition did not affect leaf defoliation but influenced the spatial distribution of herbivores in crops. Crop type influenced arthropod groups, especially herbivores, which preferred mixed organic cover. Lastly, farm and non-farm sites revealed similar family-level richness, suggesting that conventional farms can support arthropod biodiversity if habitat is not limiting.

biodiversity, agriculture, arthropod, habitat, tallgrass prairie