Insecticidal Bt crops and seed treatments represent additional pest management tools for growers, prompting ecological studies comparing their impact on farm system inputs and effects to nontarget organisms compared with conventional practices. Using high taxonomic and temporal resolution, we contrast the dominance structure of carabids and dynamics of the most abundant species in maize (both sweet and field corn) agroecosystems using pest management tactics determined by the purchase of seed and application of pyrethroid insecticides. In the seed-based treatments, sweet corn contained Cry1Ab/c proteins, whereas field corn contained the coupled technology of Cry3Bb1 proteins for control of corn rootworm and neonicotinoid seed treatments aimed at secondary soil-borne pests. The insecticide treatments involved foliar pyrethroids in sweet corn and at-planting pyrethroids in field corn. The carabid community, comprised of 49 species, was dominated by four species, Scarites quadriceps Chaudoir, Poecilus chalcites Say, Pterostichus melanarius Illiger, and Harpalus pensylvanicus DeGeer, that each occupied a distinct temporal niche during the growing season. Two species, Pt. melanarius and H. pensylvanicus, exhibited differences between treatments over time. Only H. pensylvanicus had consistent results in both years, in which activity densities in field corn were significantly higher in the control in July and/or August. These results, along with laboratory bioassays, led us to hypothesize that lower adult captures resulted from decrease in prey availability or exposure of H. pensylvanicus larvae to soil-directed insecticides—either the neonicotinoid seed treatment in the transgenic field corn or an at-planting soil insecticide in the conventional field corn.
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