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Effects of different farming practices on rice paddy animal community during cultivation and fallow periods in northern Taiwan
In recent years, several researches have focused on how organic and conventional farming practices differ in affecting invertebrate communities in Taiwan. However, agricultural ecosystems, including rice paddies, in northern Taiwan has rarely been studied; moreover, whether animal communities during the periodic fallow periods also differ between paddies with organic vs. conventional farming practices during the preceding cultivating periods is unclear. In Yilan of northern Taiwan, paddies are left fallow during the winter but are still flooded to prevent colonization of agricultural pests. Such temporary wetlands provide animals, particularly migratory Scolopacidae and Charadriidae shorebirds, foraging habitats; therefore, it is important to study whether abundance and composition of invertebrates differ with legacy of agricultural practices. In this study, three organic and three conventional farmlands were each studied in Yuanshan and Sanxing township of northern Taiwan six times from March 2019 to March 2020, with invertebrates collected from both rice plants and flooded water with sweep nets, and bird and amphibian species identified and number recorded. Environmental factors recorded included ambient temperature, water quality (water depth, water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and conductivity), paddy height as well as plant structure of field banks. Invertebrate specimens were identified to family level and biodiversity indices calculated. A total of 32,880 invertebrates belonging to 12 classes, 30 orders, and 144 families, as well as 381 vertebrates of four classes, nine orders, and 15 families were recorded. In total, significantly higher family richness and abundance of invertebrates were found in organic than conventional fields. Family richness of terrestrial invertebrates and abundance of aquatic invertebrates were also significantly higher in organic than conventional fields. Shannon index and community composition did not show significant differences. Family richness and abundance of terrestrial invertebrates increased with progression of rice cultivation, but with organic fields exhibiting higher increase than conventional fields. Difference in abundance of aquatic invertebrates between farming practices were higher in the late stage of cultivation and early stage of fallowing. Expect for agricultural practices, environmental factors such as temperature, water quality, paddy height and the vegetation of field bank also had significant effect on abundance and richness of invertebrates. Abundance and richness of predators and parasitoids were higher in organic than conventional fields. During the fallow period, abundance and composition of invertebrates did not differ between agricultural practices. Flooded fallow fields with either organic or conventional practices can provide ideal foraging habitats for migratory shorebirds.
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