Dryland Organic Farming Partially Offsets Negative Effects of Highly Simplified Agricultural Landscapes on Forbs, Bees, and Bee-Flower Networks
Burkle, Laura A.
O'Neill, Kevin M.
Delphia, Casey M.
Weaver, David K.
Menalled, Fabian D.
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Industrialized farming practices result in simplified agricultural landscapes, reduced biodiversity, and degraded species-interaction networks. Thus far, most research assessing the combined effects of farming systems and landscape complexity on beneficial insects has been conducted in relatively diversified and mesic systems and may not represent the large-scale, monoculture-based dryland agriculture that dominates many regions worldwide. Specifically, the effects of farming systems on forbs, bees, and their interactions are poorly understood in highly simplified dryland landscapes such as those in the Northern Great Plains, United States, an area globally important for conventional and organic small grain, pulse, forage, and oilseed production. During a 3-yr (2013-2015) study, we assessed 1) the effects of dryland no-till conventional and tilled organic farming on forbs, bees, and bee-flower networks and 2) the relationship between natural habitat and bee abundance. Flower density and richness were greater in tilled organic fields than in no-till conventional fields, and forb community composition differed between farming systems. We observed high bee diversity (109 taxa) in this highly simplified landscape, and bee abundance, richness, and community composition were similar between systems. Compared with tilled organic fields, bee-flower interactions in no-till conventional fields were poorly connected, suggesting these systems maintain relatively impoverished plant-pollinator networks. Natural habitat (11% of the landscape) did not affect small-bodied bee abundance in either farming system but positively affected large-bodied bees within 2,000 m of crop-field centers. In highly simplified agricultural landscapes, dryland organic farming and no-till conventional farming together support relatively high bee diversity, presumably because dryland organic farming enhances floral resources and bee-flower networks, and no-till management in conventional farming provides undisturbed ground-nesting habitats for wild bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea).
Adhikari, Subodh, Laura A. Burkle, Kevin M. O'Neill, Casey M. Delphia, David K. Weaver, and Fabian D. Menalled. "Dryland Organic Farming Partially Offsets Negative Effects of Highly Simplified Agricultural Landscapes on Forbs, Bees, and Bee-Flower Networks." Environmental Entomology48 , no. 4 (August 2019): 826-835. DOI:10.1093/ee/nvz056.