Spiders are critical predators in agroecosystems. Crop management practices can influence predator density and diversity, which, in turn, can influence pest management strategies. Crop intensification is a sustainable agricultural technique that can enhance crop production although optimizing soil moisture. To date, there is no information on how crop intensification affects natural enemy populations, particularly spiders. This study had two objectives: to characterize the abundance and diversity of spiders in eastern Colorado agroecosystems, and to test the hypothesis that spider diversity and density would be higher in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in crop-intensified rotations compared with wheat in conventional rotations. We collected spiders through pitfall, vacuum, and lookdown sampling from 2002 to 2007 to test these objectives. Over 11,000 spiders in 19 families from 119 species were captured from all sampling techniques. Interestingly, the hunting spider guild represented 89% of the spider fauna captured from all sites with the families Gnaphosidae and Lycosidae representing 75% of these spiders. Compared with European agroecosystems, these agroecosystems had greater diversity, which can be beneficial for the biological control of pests. Overall, spider densities were low in these semiarid cropping systems, and crop intensification effects on spider densities were not evident at this scale.
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Vol. 42 • No. 1