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Optimizing buffer strips for insect-derived ecosystem services

Investigator: Dr. Matthew O'Neal

The goal of this research project is to develop a research-based guide for farmers, landowners and policy writers on the enhancement of ecosystem services derived from agricultural landscapes. To achieve this goal, replicates of nine different buffer strips options were established to represent habitats that:

1) vary in plant diversity and complexity;

2) range in availability and temporal provisioning of floral resources;

3) are designed with novel combinations of native prairie species determined individually to be attractive to beneficial insects and

4) are currently recommended for habitat and prairie restoration in Iowa.

Plantings were assessed for their ability to attract and conserve beneficial insects by evaluating the abundance, species richness and diversity of beneficial insect communities in each planting (Figure X1 filename = Buffer Plot Example, Figure X2 filename = Bee visiting plot). The plantings that perform well in their ability to attract and conserve a diverse suite of beneficial insects throughout the growing season will be further evaluated on a larger scale.