- To measure how specific natural habitat features affect:
- beneficial insect abundance and diversity (such as pollinators)
- canola yield.
Canola need beneficial insects to deliver high crop yields, but as agricultural lands replace natural areas, the insect’s habitat and forage source becomes compromised. The habitat and forage source is important as nesting sites and to support their life cycle, so without these components the success of beneficial insects is diminished. This topic has not been studied extensively, and this project aims to look at the impact of all beneficial insects on canola yield, and of canola on beneficial insects; in particular, how these are related to the amount and arrangement of natural habitat near fields, and to the distance of the habitat from fields. This study will set up a surveillance network to sample beneficial insects across Alberta and Saskatchewan to provide information about their natural habitat requirements. Specifically, how size, location, composition and configuration of features such as field margins, wetlands or other uncultivated areas drive the natural habitat-yield relationship and how they affect precision measurements of yield. This study will also be the first step in building a long-term monitoring strategy for beneficial insects across the prairies that will also look at trends over time and effects of changes in habitats.