Transgenes sustain epigeal insect biodiversity in diversified vegetable farm systems

T. W. Leslie, G. A. Hoheisel, D. J. Biddinger, J. R. Rohr, S. J. Fleischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Many ecological studies have focused on the effects of transgenes in field crops, but few have considered multiple transgenes in diversified vegetable systems. We compared the epigeal, or soil surface-dwelling, communities of Coleoptera and Formicidae between transgenic and isoline vegetable systems consisting of sweet corn, potato, and acorn squash, with transgenic cultivars expressing Cry1 (A)b, Cry3, or viral coat proteins. Vegetables were grown in replicated split plots over 2 yr with integrated pest management (IPM) standards defining insecticide use patterns. More than 77.6% of 11,925 insects from 1,512 pitfall traps were identified to species, and activity density was used to compare dominance distribution, species richness, and community composition. Measures of epigeal biodiversity were always equal in transgenic vegetables, which required fewer insecticide applications than their near isolines. There were no differences in species richness between transgenic and isoline treatments at the farm system and individual crop level. Dominance distributions were also similar between transgenic and isoline farming systems. Crop type, and not genotype, had a significant influence on Carabidae and Staphylinidae community composition in the first year, but there were no treatment effects in the second year, possibly because of homogenizing effects of crop rotations. Communities were more influenced by crop type, and possibly crop rotation, than by genotype. The heterogeneity of crops and rotations in diversified vegetable farms seems to aid in preserving epigeal biodiversity, which may be supplemented by reductions in insecticide use associated with transgenic cultivars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-244
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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