Wildflower plantings harbor increased arthropod richness and abundance within agricultural areas in Florida (USA)

Authors: Joshua W. Campbell  Chase B. Kimmel  Steven M. Grodsky  Cherice Smithers  Jaret C. Daniels  James D. Ellis

Intensive agriculture has led to a reduction of overall biodiversity and ecosystem services such as pollination and biological control. To offset these economic losses, many farmers are planting native wildflowers to enhance flowering plant diversity and augment pollinator and other beneficial arthropod populations on their farms. In this study, we examined arthropod communities in Florida (USA) within wildflower plots and fallow control plots, which were primarily composed of grasses. Significantly more herbivorous insects, predatory arthropods, and pollinators were found within wildflower plots than in fallow control plots. We also implemented pollinator surveys at flowering plants. These surveys highlighted numerous plant–pollinator interactions within wildflower plots, supporting the idea that some native wildflower species are more attractive to pollinators than are others. Nevertheless, utilizing diverse flowering plants for wildflower plots may support a wide diversity of beneficial arthropod species, including native bees. Our results suggest that wildflower plantings in Florida can be a successful management tool to harbor increased overall plant and arthropod diversity (including native pollinators and other beneficial arthropods) within intensive agricultural areas.

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