ARTHROPOD COMMUNITIES IN RIPARIAN GRASS BUFFERS AND ADJACENT CROPS
Nelson, Jessica Lynn
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Riparian buffers composed of either native warm season or non-native cool season grasses are commonly planted alongside crop fields. Although their water quality function is well documented, few studies have examined grass buffers as habitat for arthropod communities. The aerial and epigeal arthropods were surveyed using pitfall traps and sticky cards to assess the effects of both grass types on community structure in the buffer and adjacent crop. I predicted that warm season grasses would provide favorable habitat for more diverse and abundant arthropod populations, particularly natural enemies. The weight of evidence did not support my prediction and suggests that cool season grass buffers provide equivalent, if not better habitat for arthropods than warm season grasses. Coupled with higher food quality, cool season species green-up much earlier than warm season grasses in the spring and provide food resources for many herbivores and natural enemies.