There has been a lot of buzz in the lab about two papers examining the relationships between habitat diversity (at local and landscape scales) and arthropod diversity.
The first paper (Bennett and Gratton 2013) examines the relationships between floral diversity and the diversity of beneficial arthropods which includes insect pollinators and predators. Ashley and Claudio found that as plant diversity increases, the number of beneficial arthropod species increases as well. They also found that as plant diversity increases, the variability in arthropod community decreases meaning that the composition of beneficial arthropods in highly diverse plant communities are more similar to each other than low diversity plant communities. These results have implications for restoration and habitat management where careful selection of plants may be needed to increase the richness of beneficial arthropods in more predictable ways.
The second paper (Kennedy et al 2013) is a global study examining the relative effects of landscape composition (e.g. nesting and floral diversity), landscape configuration (e.g. habitat connectivity and shape), and local factors (e.g. farm management and plant diversity) on native bee communities in 39 crop systems (including Hannah Gaines’ cranberry system!). The authors found that native bee abundance and richness were positively affected by the diversity of resources in the local habitat and surrounding landscape features. These results suggest that farms surrounded by a high diversity of habitats may offset any potential negative effects of low diversity agriculture (i.e. monocultures) for native bee communities. The following is a research brief put out by UC Berkley (http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2013/03/12/crop-diversity-boosts-bees/)
Way to go Ashley, Hannah and Claudio!
Posted by Tania Kim