Does insect herbivore community composition differ in the presence of prairie strips?

Jen Zavalnitskaya and Zsofia Szendrei

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

Agricultural intensification has made traditional pest management strategies less effective. Pest management has been compromised in these simplified landscapes due to not only local management, but the overall landscape structure as well. Prairie strips are a type of habitat modification that can enhance the complexity of a landscape and have been found to increase ecosystem services such as insect pollination. However, bottom-up forces such as the influence of prairie strips on insect herbivore communities have not been investigated. Specifically, we want to determine whether prairie strips change herbivore community composition or the number of generalist and specialist insect herbivores throughout the agroecosystem. More complex landscapes have been associated with higher abundances of generalist herbivores Thus, we hypothesize that we will find a higher abundance of generalist herbivores and lower abundance of specialist herbivores when prairie strips are present. We plan to survey how herbivore communities differ between Cucurbit plants in the absence and presence of prairie strips. By understanding these differences in herbivore composition, we can determine whether prairie strips could be potentially utilized as an effective means of pest management.

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