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Insects 2017, 8(4), 104; doi:10.3390/insects8040104

Perennial Grass and Native Wildflowers: A Synergistic Approach to Habitat Management

1
Department of Entomology, University of Georgia, Tifton, GA 31793 USA
2
Crop Protection and Management Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Tifton, GA 31793, USA
3
Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Tifton, GA 31793, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Zsofia Szendrei and Amanda Buchanan
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 9 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Habitat Management in Agroecosystems)
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Abstract

Marginal agricultural land provides opportunities to diversify landscapes by producing biomass for biofuel, and through floral provisioning that enhances arthropod-mediated ecosystem service delivery. We examined the effects of local spatial context (adjacent to woodland or agriculture) and irrigation (irrigation or no irrigation) on wildflower bloom and visitation by arthropods in a biofeedstocks-wildflower habitat buffer design. Twenty habitat buffer plots were established containing a subplot of Napier grass (Pennisetum perpureum Schumach) for biofeedstock, three commercial wildflower mix subplots, and a control subplot containing spontaneous weeds. Arthropods and flowers were visually observed in quadrats throughout the season. At the end of the season we measured soil nutrients and harvested Napier biomass. We found irrespective of buffer location or irrigation, pollinators were observed more frequently early in the season and on experimental plots with wildflowers than on weeds in the control plots. Natural enemies showed a tendency for being more common on plots adjacent to a wooded border, and were also more commonly observed early in the season. Herbivore visits were infrequent and not significantly influenced by experimental treatments. Napier grass yields were high and typical of first-year yields reported regionally, and were not affected by location context or irrigation. Our results suggest habitat management designs integrating bioenergy crop and floral resources provide marketable biomass and habitat for beneficial arthropods. View Full-Text
Keywords: agroecosystem design; bioenergy grass; conservation; floral provisioning; functional groups; habitat management; LTAR; natural enemies; landscape restoration; sustainable intensification agroecosystem design; bioenergy grass; conservation; floral provisioning; functional groups; habitat management; LTAR; natural enemies; landscape restoration; sustainable intensification
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Xavier, S.S.; Olson, D.M.; Coffin, A.W.; Strickland, T.C.; Schmidt, J.M. Perennial Grass and Native Wildflowers: A Synergistic Approach to Habitat Management. Insects 2017, 8, 104.

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