Biodiv Sci ›› 2011, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (3): 353-362.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2011.10117

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Effects of cover crops on mite communities in tea plantations

Lilin Chen1, Sheng Lin1, Minsheng You1,*(), Shaobo Chen1, Liette Vasseur1,2, Shuchun Ye1   

  1. 1 Institute of Applied Ecology, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002
    2 Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada
  • Received:2010-05-04 Accepted:2010-09-04 Online:2011-05-20 Published:2013-12-10
  • Contact: Minsheng You


Mites form one of the most important and complex communities of arthropods in tea plantations. We examined the responses of mite communities in terms of species composition, structure and diversity in tea plantations subjected to two types of intercropping. Samples were collected between March 2006 and April 2008 from tea canopies using both knock-down and pruning methods, and from ground litter in four different treatments in tea plantations in the Wuyi Mountains. Results from both canopy and litter samples showed that tea plantations intercropped with Paspalum notatum or Cassia rotundifolia had significantly higher species richness (S), effective diversity index (eH′), number of individuals (N), and absolute abundance ($\bar{n}$) of predatory mites than in control tea plantations with natural vegetation. Plantations intercropped with P. notatum or C. rotundifolia displayed a significantly higher number of individuals (N) of Anystis baccarum, a common predatory species, for both canopy and litter samples versus the tea plantation with natural ground cover and on bare ground. Species richness, number of individuals, and diversity indices of both phytophagous and saprophagous mite communities collected from tea canopies and of saprophagous mite communities in litter were not different among the various intercropping treatments. Seasonal dynamics in mite species richness (S) and number of individuals (N) were apparent for all treatments. Czekanowski similarity indices suggested that these communities were highly similar to each other. For the tea plantation intercropped with P. notatum or C. rotundifolia, or with natural ground cover, the total number of mites in tea canopies was positively associated with the total number of mites in the litter. We suggest that diversifying tea agroecosystems by using intercrops can bolster predatory mite densities, thus providing a viable strategy for pest management and promoting the environmentally benign production of tea products.

Key words: intercropping, Acarina, Paspalum notatum, Cassia rotundifolia