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Impacts of the agricultural transformation of the Canadian Prairies on grassland arthropods

  • M.A. Vankosky (a1), H.A. Cárcamo (a2), H.A. Catton (a2), A.C. Costamagna (a3) and R. De Clerck-Floate (a2)...

The prairie grasslands have been transformed to become the primary source of agricultural production in Canada. Soon after its establishment, the Biological Survey of Canada recognised the urgent need to document the arthropods of the prairie grasslands, especially in the few pristine remnants. Although this initiative has yielded considerable progress in documenting the species present in the Prairies Ecozone, comprehensive ecological studies are sparse. Landscape effects on arthropods are well studied elsewhere, but no equivalent studies have been published for the Canadian Prairies. Crop rotation varies landscape composition annually, changes host plant resources in fields, and interacts with other agricultural inputs to disturb pest and beneficial arthropods. Despite only a handful of studies on grazing, there is an emerging pattern: moderate grazing increases arthropod diversity and benefits certain arthropod guilds. Abiotic inputs elicit variable responses from different arthropod taxa; Carabidae (Coleoptera) are best studied, with some information available for ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and aquatic arthropods. Biotic inputs include arthropods released for biocontrol of weed and insect pests; evidence indicates that biocontrol agents of insects have a greater potential for impact on native communities of arthropods. The studies reviewed here reveal important trends and research gaps to be addressed in the future.

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The Canadian Entomologist
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  • EISSN: 1918-3240
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