Biodiversity associated with an irrigated rice agro-ecosystem in Sri Lanka
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Irrigated rice fields are temporary wetland agro-ecosystems, managed with a variable degree of intensity. A survey was carried out in Sri Lanka to document the overall biodiversity associated with this unique agro-ecosystem, using a combination of sampling techniques to document different groups of fauna and flora. The total number of biota recorded and identified from the rice field ecosystem during the entire study period consisted of 494 species of invertebrates belonging to 10 phyla and 103 species of vertebrates, while the flora included 89 species of macrophytes, 39 genera of microphytes and 3 species of macrofungi. Of the total species documented, 15 species of invertebrates and one weed species are new records to Sri Lanka. Arthropods were the dominant group of invertebrates ( 405 species), of which 55 species were rice pest insects, and 200 species were natural enemies of pest insects. The fauna and flora recorded from the rice field were observed to follow a uniform pattern of seasonal colonization and succession during successive rice cultivation cycles. The biodiversity of the irrigated rice agro-ecosystem interests both agroecologists and conservation biologists. Therefore, the integrated efforts of these two groups can result in the formulation of strategies based on biodiversity as an organizing principle in the sustainable management of the rice field agro-ecosystem.