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Nutrient Input to an Alpine Tundra: An Aeolian Insect Component

James Halfpenny and Michael Heffernan
The Southwestern Naturalist
Vol. 37, No. 3 (Sep., 1992), pp. 247-251
DOI: 10.2307/3671865
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3671865
Page Count: 5
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Nutrient Input to an Alpine Tundra: An Aeolian Insect Component
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Abstract

Large quantities of non-alpine insects are blown episodically onto some alpine tundras. These events may have return intervals as short as 3 years in Colorado. Windblown depositions of a moth (Loxstege cerareoles, Pyralidae) from one episodic event were analyzed to determine the possible influx of soluble nutrients to the alpine tundra. Ten chemicals were identified in or on the insect bodies. Significant external additions of soluble phosphorus and potassium occurred to the alpine, but additions of soluble nitrogen were probably not significant. Phosphorus additions may represent a relatively new input source emanating from contamination by fertilizers used on alfalfa crops on the Great Plains. Potassium inputs may originate in the soils of the Great Plains and may increase buffering capacity in the poorly buffered tundra soils of the Colorado Front Range.

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