Riparian buffers play a major role in the establishment and preservation of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife within the landscapes in which they are found. Examining insect communities within and around riparian buffers may provide information about beneficial and pest species that occur within them. This study evaluates the changes in the insect community with increasing distance from the transitional zones of a riparian buffer; specifically, the water/riparian interface and the crop/riparian interface. Insect communities were sampled in two types of riparian areas in northern Missouri: (1) forested and (2) row crop with a narrow riparian buffer. Forested riparian sites were used to determine community changes associated with distance from the stream edge. Row crop sites were used to determine community changes associated with distance from the crop/riparian interface, into both the riparian and crop areas. Preliminary results indicate that proximity to stream edge does not impact the community structure of an area. In row crop/riparian settings there is increased abundance and diversity at the ecotone between crop and riparian area. This difference may be linked to the increased abundance of undergrowth and flowering plants present in areas with reduced canopy cover. Results from this research could play a role in decision making to maximize the positive impacts of riparian areas on agricultural landscapes.
Keywords: riparian areas, biological control
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