Caterpillar-parasitoid networks in prairie strips

Alice Puchalsky and Nick Haddad
Integrative Biology

Presented at the All Scientist Meeting and Investigators Field Tour (2021-09-23 to 2021-09-23 )

Agriculture is a major land use world wide, and causes the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Conservation tools, like the addition of strips of native prairie into agricultural lands, could help to ameliorate the negative effects of agriculture on ecosystems. However, the effects of prairie strips on groups of interactions, which often maintain ecosystem functions and services, is not known. In this study, we aim to determine how the addition of prairie strips affect tri-trophic interaction networks, using plant-caterpillar-parasitoid interactions as our study system. We hypothesize that fields with prairie strips will have a greater diversity of interactions than fields without prairie strips. During the summer of 2021, we collected caterpillars from soy fields with and without prairie strips, and at varying distances from the prairie strips. The collected caterpillars were reared in a lab until a parasitoid emerged or until an adult Lepidopteran emerged. The results from this study are forthcoming, and may demonstrate the ability of prairie strips to facilitate beneficial interactions, like biocontrol of Lepidopteran pests.

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