Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Matthew E. O'Neal


The annual value of crop pollination and biological control of plant pests provided by beneficial insects is estimated to be worth at least $22 billion to United States crop production. Beneficial insects that supply these services to agricultural lands are threatened by limited or suboptimal resources due to the loss of biodiversity in agroecosystems, which is a growing concern in agricultural states like Iowa. Conservation practices are recommended to address a multitude of conservation concerns related to Iowa's declining natural resources; however, guidelines for best practices that conserve beneficial insects are not well defined. Due to the valuable relationship of beneficial insects and successful crop production, there is a need for developing best practices that conserve beneficial insects within Iowa's agricultural landscape. The first objective was to design mixtures of native perennial plants that range in diversity and resource availability and evaluate these different plant communities as candidates for buffer strips that attract and conserve beneficial insects. The second objective was to evaluate the insect community in non-crop buffer strips already established on organic farms and in the adjacent organic crops and conventional row crops. This research seeks to identify mixtures of native perennial plants optimized with resources attractive to pollinators and natural enemies and to determine if these mixtures can enhance Iowa's buffer strips to conserve beneficial insects and protect their services. Best-practices for conserving beneficial insects can be adapted for different regions, land uses, and habitat restoration scenarios beyond the study system used for this research.


Copyright Owner

Kelly Ann Gill



File Format


File Size

151 pages