, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 538-549
Date: 31 May 2006

Arthropod Diversity and Community Structure in Relation to Land Use in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

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Abstract

Declining biodiversity in agro-ecosystems, caused by intensification of production or expansion of monocultures, is associated with the emergence of agricultural pests. Understanding how land-use and management control crop-associated biodiversity is, therefore, one of the key steps towards the prediction and maintenance of natural pest-control. Here we report on relationships between land-use variables and arthropod community attributes (for example, species diversity, abundance and guild structure) across a diversification gradient in a rice-dominated landscape in the Mekong delta, Vietnam. We show that rice habitats contained the most diverse arthropod communities, compared with other uncultivated and cultivated land-use types. In addition, arthropod species density and Simpson’s diversity in flower, vegetable and fruit habitats was positively related to rice cover in the local landscape. However, across the landscape as a whole, reduction in heterogeneity and the amount of uncultivated cover was associated, generally, with a loss of diversity. Furthermore, arthropod species density in tillering and flowering stages of rice was positively related to crop and vegetation richness, respectively, in the local landscape. Differential effects on feeding guilds were also observed in rice-associated communities with the proportional abundance of predators increasing and the proportional abundance of detritivores decreasing with increased landscape rice cover. Thus, we identify a range of rather complex, sometimes contradictory patterns concerning the impact of rice cover and landscape heterogeneity on arthropod community attributes. Importantly, we conclude that that land-use change associated with expansion of monoculture rice need not automatically impact diversity and functioning of the arthropod community.