The effects of alternative and conventional management systems in cotton agriculture on avian and arthropod populations in the Upper Coastal Plain of Georgia
Cederbaum, Sandra Bloomfield
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Significant agricultural advancements over the past 50 years have altered the landscape and negatively affected the avian populations associated with early successional habitat. Among the major agricultural crops in the Southeast, cotton is generally considered to provide the least suitable habitat for most early successional songbirds. Newer cropping systems such as use of conservation tillage and stripcover cropping offer hope for improving the value of cotton fields to songbirds. During 1999 and 2000, we examined the effects of stripcover planting, in conservation tillage, versus conventionally grown cotton, in both conventional and conservation tillage, on the avian and arthropod species composition and field usage in eastern-central Georgia. Stripcover fields had higher avian densities and detections, and arthropod biomass and relative abundance than both Conservation tillage and Conventional fields. Our findings suggest that both conservation tillage and stripcropping systems will improve conditions for birds in cotton, with stripcropped fields providing superior habitat.