The degree of abundance and diversity of springtails (order Collembola) often indicates the extent of disturbance by various agricultural practices. We examined how transgenic herbicide-tolerant soybean varieties and their associated weed management systems affect the abundance of 21 surface-active springtail species during three successive soybean growing seasons. With six soybean varieties (three transgenic, three nontransgenic), we tested three weed management systems: (1) targeted application of specific herbicides to the corresponding tolerant transgenic varieties; (2) conventional pre- and postemergence herbicide applications; and (3) mechanical cultivation. Each method posed its own potential costs and benefits to springtails. In targeted plots, springtail numbers were similar to or higher than those in conventional plots, suggesting that the later and repeated targeted applications to transgenic soybeans do not adversely affect springtail numbers in the short term. We attributed the observed treatment effect differences on springtail numbers to resultant differences in weed cover and degree of soil disturbance (indirect effects), rather than to any direct toxic effects of the herbicides. The treatments affected some species but not others; most of the affected species responded similarly to differences in weed treatment. Our results overall suggested no deleterious short-term effects of transgenic soybean targeted weed-management systems on abundance of the springtail species examined.
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