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Comparative Diversity of Arthropods on Bt Maize and Non-Bt Maize in two Different Cropping Systems in South Africa

J. Truter, H. Van Hamburg, J. Van Den Berg
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EN12177 197-208 First published online: 1 February 2014

Abstract

The biodiversity of an agroecosystem is not only important for its intrinsic value but also because it influences ecological functions that are vital for crop production in sustainable agricultural systems and the surrounding environment. A concern about genetically modified (GM) crops is the potential negative impact that such crops could have on diversity and abundance of nontarget organisms, and subsequently on ecosystem functions. Therefore, it is essential to assess the potential environmental risk of the release of a GM crop and to study its effect on species assemblages within that ecosystem. Assessment of the impact of Bt maize on the environment is hampered by the lack of basic checklists of species present in maize agroecosystems. The aims of the study were to compile a checklist of arthropods that occur on maize in South Africa and to compare the diversity and abundance of arthropods and functional groups on Bt maize and non-Bt maize. Collections of arthropods were carried out during two growing seasons on Bt maize and non-Bt maize plants at two localities. Three maize fields were sampled per locality during each season. Twenty plants, each of Bt maize and non-Bt maize, were randomly selected from the fields at each site. The arthropods collected during this study were classified to morphospecies level and grouped into the following functional groups: detritivores, herbivores, predators, and parasitoids. Based on feeding strategy, herbivores and predators were further divided into sucking herbivores or predators (piercing-sucking mouthparts) and chewing herbivores or predators (chewing mouthparts). A total of 8,771 arthropod individuals, comprising 288 morphospecies and presenting 20 orders, were collected. Results from this short-term study indicated that abundance and diversity of arthropods in maize and the different functional guilds were not significantly affected by Bt maize, either in terms of diversity or abundance.

  • arthropod
  • biodiversity
  • diversity index
  • GM maize
  • South Africa
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