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Journal Article

Interactions among Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) in Intermountain Grassland of Western North America

Edward W. Evans
Oikos
Vol. 73, No. 1 (May, 1995), pp. 73-78
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3545727
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3545727
Page Count: 6

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Topics: Grasshoppers, Alfalfa, Grasses, Nymphs, P values, Vegetation, Species, Growing seasons, Adult insects, Plants
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Interactions among Grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae) in Intermountain Grassland of Western North America
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Abstract

A field experiment was conducted in a re-established grassland in northern Utah, USA, to examine whether grasshopper species interact strongly when natural populations reach high densities. During the growing season of 1990, plots with average densities of 10-11 grasshoppers per m2 were treated with carbaryl bran bait (carbaryl plots) or bran bait without carbaryl (control plots). The grasshoppers fed particularly heavily on alfalfa, driving the percent cover of this species to essentially zero by mid-August. Application of carbaryl significantly reduced the densities of three of the four major grasshopper species present (Oedaleonotus enigma, Melanoplus sanguinipes, and M. packardii), and slowed the rate with which these insects consumed the standing crop of alfalfa. In contrast, densities of the fourth major grasshopper species present, M. bivittatus, were not reduced by application of carbaryl but instead were greatly elevated. This population response may have arisen in large part as adults of M. bivittatus aggregated in carbaryl plots in response to the reduced rate of defoliation of alfalfa by other species. Greater numbers of M. bivittatus nymphs also occurred in 1991 in plots treated with versus without carbaryl in 1990 (no carbaryl was applied in 1991), as did greater numbers of O. enigma nymphs (despite there having been fewer adult females present in these plots the previous year). But the densities of grasshoppers of all species were low in all plots in 1991 (approximately 1 per m2 by mid-summer), and no differences in percent cover of alfalfa or other vegetation were detected in plots treated the previous year with versus without carbaryl. The striking positive response of M. bivittatus to application of carbaryl bran (and associated reductions in population sizes of competing grasshopper species) strongly suggests that intense interspecific interactions occurred at the study site in 1990.

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