Insect Pollinators within Cotton Fields of Small-Scale Farms in Mwachisompola, Zambia and Development of an Educational Manual
Mayes, Daphne M.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Global declines in wild and managed pollinator species have increased the need to evaluate the current status of these populations. Farming systems are a good place to examine pollinator presence and activity, because the blooming period of the crop provides a predictable floral resource which attracts pollinators. In this study, pollinator data was collected in small-scale conservation and conventional cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) fields in Mwachisompola, Zambia. Twenty-seven species of insect pollinators were recorded, with 67% belonging to the order Hymenoptera, 26% Diptera, and 7% Coleoptera. Results indicate that only 33% of the total observed species were found within both farm systems. Furthermore, eleven of the insects observed foraging within cotton flowers were also predatory. Paragus borbonicus and Ischiodon aegyptius were found within both conservation and conventional fields. These species are important predators of crop pests that are known to attack cotton. There was a negative correlation between species richness and field size, regardless of farm management. This study shows that both types of farm systems are important resources for insect pollinators and crop pest predators, and that local management practices have the opportunity to positively or negatively impact these organisms. A secondary objective of this study was the development of an educational manual focused on pollinators in Zambia. Living and working as a rural-based Peace Corps volunteer, I had the opportunity to explore how farmers and extension staff view pollinators. Using this information it was determined that an education manual focusing on pollinators in Zambia would assist in promoting pollinator awareness and conservation. This resource will be freely distributed by the Conservation Farming Unit of Zambia and the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute, and supports the efforts of actors involved in pollinator conservation.