For the first time, the biodiversity of arthropods in a vineyard was studied, as their presence is an indicator of the status of an ecosystem. The diversity of the arthropod fauna (arachnids) is an indicator of the environmental degradation. With this premise, researchers proposed to study the situation of an agro-ecosystem based on its biodiversity.
To this end, they compared the results obtained in a forest ecosystem and in a neighboring vineyard, with the objective to evaluate the agricultural practices typical of viticulture on arthropods.
The research team used a methodology called Rapid Biodiversity Assessment (RBA) for the study, which allows for rapid results of the richness and abundance of morphospecies in an environment.
“We speak of morpho-species and not species because insects are classified according to their similarity in form. It is a New Zealand technique for measuring impact quickly. Because if you have to classify every species of arthropod, it’s endless. And it is economically unviable,” said one of the researchers.
Sampling was carried out from a field survey with traps at 24 georeferenced sampling points to measure the biodiversity of arthropods
From the captured arthropods, the morpho-species richness and abundance are determined under a microscope in order to establish the biodiversity indices.
The first results were very surprising, as certain arthropods, such as spiders, were much more favored in the vineyard than in the bushes. One explanation we have is the vegetation cover between the rows of vines because the spiders are crawling more and as there is vegetation cover, there is more prey.
This means the existence of favorable conditions in each environment for a certain group of morpho-species, which allows in the long term to establish the loss or not of diversity, the presence of exotic organisms, the prevalence of certain species, among other points, which is presented as a key of great importance for the good integrated management of the crop and the conservation of arthropological wealth.
In short, the aim of the study is to evaluate the adaptation of the vineyard to climate change so that the producers can adapt their agriculture practices to minimize damage to the crop, according to the researchers. For example, to favor the biodiversity of arthropods, farmers have to revise practices. Further studies are needed to depict exactly how these achievements can be obtained.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.