Date of Award
Master of Science
Increases in agricultural intensification over the past century have resulted in significant alterations to the rural landscape across the Midwest. Pollinators are essential to sustain natural and managed ecosystems. They are vital for food production and their declines have been linked, in part, to a rise in intensive agricultural practices. There is a recognized need among numerous stakeholders to build sustainability into the management of agroecosystems to protect both the biotic and abiotic resources of these systems. The use of cover crops is gaining interest among agricultural producers for benefits such as improving water quality and soil health. Cover cropping systems have the potential to provide floral resources to pollinators and suppress problematic driver weeds. The overall objective of this study was to quantify the effects of cover crops on plant and pollinator biodiversity within agricultural systems. This study aimed to characterize the pollinator diversity indicative of the patchwork mosaic forest-agroecosystem of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge; evaluate the roles cover crop treatments play in supporting pollinator diversity and weed suppression benefits in a conventionally managed system; and provide the basis of recommendations for sustainable weed suppression tactics and for enhancing the quality of pollinator habitat within agricultural systems.
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