Movement of Spiders from Drainage Ditches to Agricultural Fields to Enhance Conservation Biocontrol

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2018: $13,684.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Maryland, College Park
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
William Lamp
University of Maryland, College Park


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: drainage systems
  • Education and Training: extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Spiders, the most abundant generalist predators in agroecosystems, are a major contributor to the estimated $4.5 million in pest suppression services performed by natural enemies. These generalist predators have long been considered for their pest management applications in conservation biocontrol, but little field research has been conducted on their sources in agroecosystems. However, little is known about how spider communities are formed in croplands and how they change throughout a crop’s growth cycle, especially after harvest events. Determining if an uncropped habitat on the field margin, such as a drainage ditch, acts as a source of spider diversity within croplands would allow for more informed ditch management practices and increased pest predation by spiders. Therefore, I propose to examine spider communities of marginal drainage ditches and their associated croplands and throughout the duration of a crop’s growth cycle to better understand how spider communities move from ditches to crop fields. This information can then be used to guide ditch management practices to improve pest predation by conserving valuable spider habitat. Understanding the impact of spiders moving from these undisturbed areas near crop fields to the fields themselves would also give these common drainage ditches found on farms across the United States more purpose than meets the eye.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    My overarching research goal is improve biocontrol by spiders in agroecosystems by determining the value of drainage ditches to their conservation and community assemblage. This goal can be divided into two research objectives:

    1. To assess changes to the spider communities living in drainage ditches throughout the year

    2. To determine the extent of spider movement from agricultural drainage ditches to adjacent agricultural fields

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.