Habitat manipulations, intentional provisioning of natural vegetation along crop edges, have been shown to enhance beneficial epigaeic invertebrate activity in many agricultural settings, but little research has been conducted on this practice in the southeast United States. We conducted a field-scale study to determine if habitat manipulations along the field edges of an organic crop rotation increase the activity—density of beneficial ground-dwelling invertebrates. Pitfall traps were used to collect micro and macro ground-dwelling organisms in nine organic crop fields (three each of maize, soybeans, and hay; 2.5–4.0 ha each) surrounded by four experimental habitat manipulations (planted native grass and prairie flowers, planted prairie flowers only, fallow vegetation, or mowed vegetation) during 2009 and 2010 in eastern North Carolina. Beneficial macro and micro invertebrates collected in these pitfall traps consisted primarily of Carabidae, Araneae, Collembola, and mite species. Results show that habitat manipulations had little effect on the activity—density of the dominant epigaeic invertebrates in our study system. Our results suggest that the activity—density of these organisms were instead determined by a combination of in-field characteristics, such as crop type, weed management practices, and within-field resources, along with the diversity of crop type in neighboring fields and the availability of other resources in the area.
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