Impact of cogongrass management strategies on generalist predators in cogongrass-infested longleaf pine plantations.
BACKGROUND: Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica Beav.) is an aggressive, invasive weed with a global distribution. In North America, it threatens the integrity of southeastern pine agroecosystems, including longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.). While studies have examined the impacts of cogongrass and various vegetation management strategies on longleaf pine understory plant communities, little is known about how they impact associated insect communities. To understand the effect of cogongrass management strategies on arthropod natural enemies and bark beetles, a split-plot design was used to test fire (whole-plot) and four subplot treatments (control, herbicide, seeding and herbicide plus seeding). Arthropods were sampled using pitfall traps and sweep samples. RESULTS: After 2 years of sampling, total natural enemies were not significantly affected by subplot treatment but were affected by burn treatment. Upon subdividing natural enemies into groups, only spiders were significantly affected by subplot treatment, but predatory beetles and ants were significantly affected by burn treatment. The abundance of root-feeding bark beetles (Hylastes spp.) was not significant by subplot or whole-plot treatments. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple applications of herbicide remain the most effective way to manage cogongrass in longleaf pine. In this study, we found limited evidence that cogongrass management with herbicides would negatively impact arthropod natural enemies associated with longleaf pine or locally increase root-feeding bark beetles.