Fallowing did not disrupt invertebrate fauna in Philippine low-pesticide irrigated rice fields.
Fallowing, a type of rotation where no crop is grown, deprives insect pests of food. In tropical irrigated rice, it is not known whether fallow periods deplete natural enemy populations and reduce their pest control effectiveness in post-fallow crops. We tested the null hypothesis that small-scale synchronous cropping (embedded in asynchronously planted rice landscapes) does not significantly increase pest densities during post-fallow periods in the presence of a large, diverse natural enemy complex undisrupted by insecticides. We tested this null hypothesis by comparing the invertebrate fauna before and after fallowing. In six molluscicide-only fields at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in southern Luzon and at Zaragoza in central Luzon, Philippines, canopy and floodwater invertebrates were vacuum-sampled over two cropping seasons, dry and wet. Thirty-three of the ubiquitous common taxa dominated the samples in both seasons at each site. Most species were natural enemies of rice pests and recyclers of organic matter in the floodwater and waterlogged sediments; some were rice pests. Fallowing depleted populations of more ubiquitous taxa at Zaragoza (four natural enemies, one detritivore) than at IRRI (one herbivore, one natural enemy). At both sites, only green leafhoppers, Nephotettix virescens and Nephotettix nigropictus, had consistently higher post-fallow densities than pre-fallow densities. At both sites, fallowing did not affect rice-invertebrate faunas differently between seasons with regard to community structure, trajectories and accumulation rates of guild members. Synthesis and applications. In tropical irrigated rice fields, small-scale synchronous fallowing combined with low-pesticide inputs and pest-resistant rice varieties did not induce pest outbreaks or notably diminish populations of natural enemies when embedded in asynchronous cropping on larger, regional scales. Our results suggest that small-scale synchronous fallowing, when embedded in asynchronously planted landscapes, does little harm to biological regulation of the invertebrate faunal community and may be adopted as part of integrated pest management when it serves other purposes.