Abstract

We described the overlap of arthropod communities between agricultural lands and adjacent wetlands using transect sampling, to determine if these juxtapositions might be influencing abundances of beneficial arthropods in agricultural lands. We further assessed experimentally whether these beneficial arthropods migrating from wetlands may potentially enhance crop productivity. Large numbers of predaceous carabid beetles and spiders moved from the wetlands into the agricultural lands; both of these groups can be important to biological control of crop pests. However, our exclusion experiments did not detect significant impacts of these predators on herbivorous insects or on crop productivity. Numerous studies have established that natural habitats adjacent to crop lands serve as refuge to beneficial arthropod communities and enhance overall biodiversity. Wetlands adjacent to agricultural lands appear to serve the same function. Our study suggests that wetlands may provide the ecosystem service of enhancing numbers of arthropods beneficial to agriculture, a service not established previously, and a factor that may motivate farmers to conserve wetlands that they own.

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