The Effects of Lawn Care on Arthropod Diversity
Jennifer Stiltz, Towson University; Dr. Katalin Szlavecz, Johns Hopkins University
Many soil arthropods are important decomposers, specifically they are responsible for physically mixing organic matter and adjusting the soil physical properties to levels more conductive for organic matter decomposition. Though the majority of the United States population resides in urban and suburban areas, it is poorly understood how cities function as ecological systems. The Baltimore Ecosystems Study (BES) is a Long Term Ecological Research project that explores metropolitan Baltimore as an ecosystem. My objective was to relate lawn care maintenance to arthropod diversity and species richness. I collected samples using pitfall traps and mesofauna extraction. Sampling was conducted in a neighborhood in Carney, MD in the spring and summer of 2003. Twelve lawns were selected and separated into 3 maintenance categories (high, medium and low) based on the number of fertilizer applications per year. A nearby forest was used as a reference site. I found that mites were more abundant in high maintenance lawns. Collembolla were more abundant in low maintenace lawns. Mites and Collembolla abundance in lawns increased as organic matter increased.