The effects of production practices on the relative abundance of springtails (Collembola) in irrigated cotton fields of northern New South Wales (NSW) were studied over 2 yr to examine effects of farmmanagement on these decomposer organisms. Pitfall trapping and soil core extraction was undertaken in both pseudoreplicated plots within whole fields on cotton farms and on experimental replicate plots of Envirofeast cotton and Lucerne. The relative abundance of surface-active springtails in cotton rows and densities of soil species from the rhizosphere were calculated. Twenty-three species of Collembola were collected from 5 fields, 19 in pitfall traps, and 11 in soil cores. Five species, Setogaster sp., Proisotoma minuta, Entomobrya unostrigata, Entomobrya multifasciata grp, and Lepidobrya sp. were numerically dominant on the ground at 86–96% of individuals and Mesaphorura sp., Folsomides parvulus, and Hemisotoma thermophila grp dominant in the soil. Native grassland samples contained 15 species of which a probable 10 were native and 8 were not found in cotton. Nineteen species of the 24 species identified from cotton were predominantly fungal feeders. Highest catches of Collembola occurred after flowering and soil Collembola increased with depth and during cotton growth on unsprayed plots but decreased on sprayed plots. Surface soil moistures affected daily catch rates with decomposing residues, crop stage, predator abundance, and season as secondary factors. Insecticide (endosulfan, pyrethroid, carbamate, and organophosphate) and predator effects were either negligible or unclear depending on the factor involved. Springtails appear to be predominately food limited during times of adequate soilmoisture in cotton fields.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3